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Echoes of Brexit vote in US race for White House

world Updated: Jun 24, 2016 22:26 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Turnberry Golf course in Scotland on Friday.(Reuters)

The British have won their country back and come November, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump said on Friday, Americans will “re-declare their independence”.

Parallels are being drawn between Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and the US presidential race — specially the top issues of immigration and globalisation.

And the revolt against the establishment and political elite, which helped Trump vanquish his mainstream rivals and has kept Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race till now.

“In striking ways, the forces fuelling Thursday’s historic referendum here were similar to those that have shaken US politics to its core in the past year,” wrote Washington Post’s Dan Balz in a report from London.

“Trump’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’, could easily have been adapted to the messaging of those in the ‘leave’ campaign across the pond,” he added.

Trump being Trump muddled up his facts in his initial response to Brexit — tweeting in Scotland, where he was to open a new golf course, “… They took their country back …”

“…Just like we will take America back,” he added. Scotland voted to stay in the EU and Trump’s tweet drew the usual “can you believe this” from critics.

But conservative commentators disregarded the back-and-forth about the remarks, and focussed on what he said about Americans voting to “re-declare” their independence.

“Britain has chosen freedom and independence,” commentator Laura Ingraham wrote, echoing Trump. “In November, Americans have the opportunity to make the same choice.”

And that “choice” will be about the same issues that made Britain vote to exit the EU — primarily immigration and globalisation (which is trade in Trump’s playbook).

Both have been central to Trump’s campaign. He has railed against “rapists and criminals" from Mexico and vowed to build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants.

And he has made China the focus of his attacks on trade, accusing it of spiriting away American manufacturing and jobs by devaluing its currency. He has also slammed trade pacts.

As has Sanders, followed by Hilary Clinton, tapping into widespread disaffection against multilateral trade deals, which they have argued, shipped abroad millions of American jobs.

But do Brexit-POTUS parallels give Trump an advantage? Conservative pollster Frank Luntz said, “This explosion in populism will give Donald Trump viability in November.”

Paul Begala, a Clinton surrogate, agreed, in a way: “#Brexit a wake-up call to anyone who thinks defeating Trump will be easy. We will have to work our hearts out. So much is at stake.”

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