Following a national referendum on June 23, in which voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump called the vote “purely historic,” saying that U.K. voters “took their country back.” Given a choice either to “Leave” the EU or “Remain,” the “Leave” (or Brexit — "British exit" from the EU) side prevailed by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.
Trump made his comments at a news conference held at Trump Turnberry, just after he arrived for the reopening of the refurbished British Open venue golf resort in South Ayrshire, Scotland. “Basically, they took back their country. That’s a great thing,” Trump told those gathered at the conference.
“I think we’re doing very well in the United States also, and it is essentially the same thing that is happening in the United States.”
As he touched down in a helicopter at the resort, Trump tweeted:
Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!
That set the pattern for a theme Trump repeated during his visit to Scotland. He continued: “I think we’re doing very well in the United States also, and it is essentially the same thing that is happening in the United States.”
Trump expanded on how he saw similarities between the situation in Europe and in America:
People are angry all over the world. They’re angry over borders, they’re angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are.
They’re angry about many, many things in the UK, the US and many other places. This will not be the last.
The presidential candidate also compared the U.K. referendum vote on the “Brexit” to the U.S. presidential election. “People really see a big parallel," said Trump.
But Trump looked even further than Britain, to the rest of the EU and predicted the Brexit vote would inspire similar moves in other countries. He said this will happen “more and more,” pointing to Germany specifically and its refugee crisis. He also stated his opinion that the EU “looks like it’s on its way” to breaking up.
“You are going to have, I think, many other cases where they want to take their borders back,” Trump continued. “They want to take their monetary back. They want to take a lot of things back. They want to be able to have a country again.”
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whom many observers have compared to Trump for his strong stand against the massive onslaught of Syrian refugees into the EU, delivered a major speech on March 15 in which he blamed “Brussels” for the massive immigration of Middle Eastern refugees into Europe.
During that speech, Orbán said forcefully, “Today Europe is as fragile, weak, and sickly as a flower being eaten away by a worm.” He said that “immigration brings crime and terror,” that the arriving masses “endanger our way of life, our culture, our customs, and our Christian civilization,” and that Brussels is “now making a plan for a United States of Europe” that will accomplish the destruction of each European nation state. Orbán added that Hungary would refuse to accept hundreds of thousands of Islamic immigrants (as Germany has already done) in a “forced resettlement scheme.”
It’s no wonder than an article in the U.K. publication The Spectator last January was headlined: “Hungary’s Prime Minister shares similar views to Donald Trump. Should he be banned too?” (The article was about a proposal from several left-wing MPs to ban Trump from Britain.)
Referring to the massive flow of Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees into Europe, Trump said at the Scottish event: “When people pour into the country and it doesn't work, whether it's because of crime or, you know, various other things,” he continued. “So you can’t unite a country by forcing things down the people’s throats and that’s what happened here.”
Just three days before the Brexit vote, Katty Kay, a presenter at BBC World News, wrote an interesting speculative piece headlined “Five reasons Brexit could signal Trump winning the White House.” In that article, Kay opined that the result in the Brexit referendum “could give us some indication of how Americans will vote in November.”
The five reasons she provided, and her reasons (greatly condensed) for interpreting a “Leave” vote as being favorable for Trump, are:
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, the leader of the Leave campaign, have tapped into a similar public mood of disgruntlement…. Mr. Johnson promises Brits a better deal if they throw off the onerous yoke of EU regulations. Mr. Trump promises Americans a better deal if they put him in the White House.
The forces of globalization are causing havoc for European workers as they are for American workers…. If the Brexit camp wins next week it could suggest the global anti-globalization mood (if such a thing is possible) is stronger than we realized.
Immigration deserves its own category because it is so critical in both campaigns. Economists argue about the relative impact of immigrants versus robots on wage stagnation — voters don’t care much. They blame immigrants. It’s easier to get mad at a person from Macedonia or Mexico, taking your job than it is to get mad at a piece of technology from Silicon Valley. In both countries, governments haven’t handled immigration well. America tried and failed to implement immigration reform and the country's Southern border remains porous.
The complicated feeling of having had a bad deal has created an insidious spin off, a sense of broken pride, both national and personal. Working men, in particular, face a world they did not expect, jobs are hard to find and pay badly meaning they often can’t provide single-handedly for their families, as their fathers and grandfathers did…. For Brits the loss of national pride comes from a feeling that British sovereignty has been given away to Brussels and if we leave the EU, we will be stronger, better, more respected.
And, finally, populism loves simplicity…. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump appeal to the heart not the head, they offer simple solutions in a time of complex problems. It’s an appealing message.
Coming just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court (in a tied vote that let a lower court ruling stand) strengthened the hand of Americans opposed to the Obama administration’s plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, the British voters’ stand for greater national sovereignty indicates that the philosophy that is often referred to as “nationalism” is thriving on both sides of the Atlantic. At this stage, however, it is impossible to determine how this trend will impact the U.S. presidential election this year.