By Daniel Payne, Editor
‘They will soon be calling me MR BREXIT!’ proclaimed @realdonaldtrump the day after the vote to Leave the EU earlier this year. This tweet, splurted with the same irreverent buffoonery common to The Donald’s legendary Twitter account, coincided with his visit to Britain, where neither his presence nor his tweets were appreciated by many. He was jeered by locals as he visited his new Scottish golf course, as, geed on by the Brexit vote, he promised his election would be ‘Brexit times ten’.
Well, like Brexit, he won. Like Brexit, he defied the swathes of polling comprehensively predicting against him. Like Brexit, he was a radical break from the expected bought about by poorer voters desperate for change. But thats where the similarities end.
Vote Leave, the official campaign for leaving the EU, was starkly contrasting in style, substance and emphasis to that of The Donald’s.
Firstly, Vote Leave was bursting with optimism and up beat attitudes towards Britain and its abilities. This evoked the same patriotic spirit that the London Olympics did, a spirit of pride and confidence in Britain’s place in the world. To smear it as nationalistic, or even racist, is a gross misunderstanding of the liberal, globalist values the campaign promoted. They argued the case for greater trade opportunities tailored by Britain, for Britain; they argued for the importance of sovereignty; they argued for a fairer system of immigration to be able to give the best chances to the best people from around the world.
The same cannot be said of Trump’s campaign, which thundered with pessimism and angry emotion. He railed against the very things the most eloquent voices favouring Brexit stand for, like increased trade and global capitalism. Indeed, the protectionism behind his policy of a 45% tariff on imported Chinese goods sounds more at home amongst the tariffs and quotas of EU trade regulations propping up failing European industries than it does the competitive efficiency of the British economy post-Brexit.
A simple comparison of the language used in either campaign also shows a pretty glaring difference between them. It is worth pointing out, as Tim Montgomerie does in The Times that ‘Boris Johnson…never suggested a muslim ban…Michael Gove did not mock a disabled reporter at a rally. Kate Hoey didn’t suggest the French people flooding into Britain were rapists and drug dealers. The Brexiteers didn’t crash through moral norms in the way Trump did on an industrial scale.’ Trump’s rhetoric was consistently fatalist, whilst being both offensive and absurd.
Furthermore, the difference in situation between the two is also worth considering. Britain voted in a referendum against an EU institution with the knowledge that the extra possible advantages of voting either way (the ‘£350 million spent on EU membership could be spent on the NHS!’ slogan, for example) were exactly that — suggestions. Whereas America voted in a general election for a candidate who made policy promises.
To drag the good name of Brexit through the mud by coupling it with the all too disturbing movement across the pond is a treacherous slight of the 52%. It’s true both votes were electoral middle fingers. But the British middle finger was optimistic, rational and eloquent, the American one not so. In the coming few years we will see what effect both have, and as Britain strides confidently into a time of success and prosperity it will be the voters who can claim the victory for themselves, not some raving fool on Twitter calling himself Mr Brexit.