They are the victories that shocked the world, ushered the west into a new era of populist, anti-establishment politics and defied the odds, experts and opinion polls. But what does the Trump victory mean for Brexit and the balance of power in Europe?
- Will Trump’s support for Brexit lead to a new kind of ‘special relationship’?
- UK needs to pursue a strong relationship with the new administration to put pressure on the EU for a good deal.
- Isolationist new president leaves the future of NATO and EU military cohesion at risk, to Putin’s gain.
As the European continent enters a new age of uncertainty in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the race for the White House, attention is turning to the consequences for 2016’s other shock result, Brexit.
The question has risen as to how the positions of power have shifted around the UK and EU negotiating table and, with many other factors at play and political turmoil abroad, whether the UK can expect an easy transition out of Europe.
It was widely expected that the Clinton administration would have put pressure on the EU to go soft on the UK, offering essentially a better deal in return for maintenance of good relations with the US. All this is now off the table.
A recent NASDAQ poll found that 94% expect the US election to strengthen the case for a hard Brexit, an economically damaging severing of ties with the EU trading bloc, while 74% said it would make the EU more likely to compromise in Brexit negotiations.
In Quotes: Donald Trump on Brexit
- Shortly after the Leave result on the morning of June 23rd, Trump called a press conference to praise the “great thing” that the people of the UK have “taken back their country.”
- The then-unlikely Presidential nominee partly blamed Barack Obama, saying “I was surprised that President Obama would come here and be so bold as to tell the people what to do and I think that a lot of people don’t like him and I think if he had not said it I think your result might have been different, but when he said it, people were not happy about it, and I thought it was totally inappropriate.”
- “I actually think that his recommendation perhaps caused it to fail,” Trump told the press conference.
- Donald Trump described himself as “Brexit plus plus plus”.
Brexit Britain and Trump’s America – kindred spirits?
The reaction to Trump’s election result in the UK was the same as anywhere else in the world. The world’s fifth largest economy rooted for Clinton and reacted with horror to the outspoken Trump’s remarks on Mexican “rapists” and pu**y grabbing.
But the hard truth is that the UK government cannot afford a frosty relationship with Washington as it burns bridges with its neighbors. Remain voters will have to swallow the potential that the Trump-Brexit association could bring or it could find itself isolated.
An Era of Uncertainty
Donald Trump’s opposition to NATO and the EU in general presents further problems for Europe. An isolationist policy plays into the hand of Putin, weakening his principal opposition to expansion and influence,
The Trump victory has come at the worst possible time for France, with a general election on the horizon and an upswing for France’s own political pariah, Marine Le Pen.
In an era of uncertainty for Europe, there are many possible ripples from the arrival of this most unexpected of US leaders. What is certain is that the balance of international power has been dealt a blow in 2016 that may come to shape the rest of the century.