Brexit, Political and Economic Nationalism: Implication for 2016 US Presidential Campaign

KEYWORDS OR TERMS: Brexit; Britain; European Union (EU); EU Parliament; Brussels; Japan (NIKKEI 225) and US (DOW JONES) Stock Exchanges; Prime Minister Cameron; Jeremy Corbyn; Hilary Benn International Economies; Political Nationalism; Economic Nationalism; NAFTA and TPP; Conference of US Mayors

On June 23, 2016, British Voters decided it was time to ditch European Union membership. For the first time since 1973 membership, and 1975 national reaffirmation referendum, United Kingdom's membership of the European Union was tested and the Brexit (Leave EU) campaign triumphed. Stock exchanges across the globe from Japan (NIKKEI 225) to US (DOW JONES) went into a tailspin, despite the fact that these two economic powers and nations are not part of the European Union. The success of ‘Brexit’ campaign in Britain led to another compelling domino effect, taking with it other nation’s economies and stock exchanges, (DAX 30; CAC 40: BOVESPA; FTSE MIB; SENSEX; SHCOMP; MICEX; S&P/ASX; KOSPI); a misnomer that was hardly expected or anticipated by nations outside the European Union. That is how interconnected international economies have become in the twenty-first century.

The Prime Minister of Britain since 2010, David Cameron, who actively campaigned for Britain to remain part of European Union, submitted his letter of resignation to the Queen of England, arguing he is not the best person to chart the nation through the new murky waters or challenging future that British voters had decided. There was suspected infighting among the opposition Labor Party leadership, with allegation of possible coup from Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn against Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of Labor Party, for his failure to persuade millions of rank and file Labour Party voters to back continued EU membership. Incidentally, Hilary Benn became another causality of Brexit campaign success from his ouster from his position, after the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. In all these developments or confusions, one thing was certain, a national vote had been taken, the British people simply decided they’ve had enough of the European Union bureaucracy; the nation had gotten to the brink of accommodating the European Union parliament in Brussels; it was time to give the British citizens their independence from being Armstrong with an annual obligation of sending hypothetically, a little over three hundred and fifty million pounds a week to the EU parliament and other associated obligations.

On the morning of Friday, June 24, 2016, change came to United Kingdom, with allegations that voters had been blindfolded or hoodwinked by the Brexit campaign group. To many international political observers, nationalistic, Eurosceptic and probably wrong-headed campaign had won the battle, but lost the war, to free the whole of the Kingdom from the shackles of affiliation with the European Union since 1973. The debate was no longer whether Number 10 Downing Street actually sent three and fifty million pounds a week to Brussels; or, that the independent fact-checking organization, Full fact’s disputed figure of size of money sent to EU Parliament actually mattered; rather, it was the veracity of the Brexit campaign and how it had taken the generality of the population by surprise, with its nationalistic campaign fervor that appears to have sent Britain to a rabbit hole.

The luxuries and benefits of international interconnectedness of commerce, somehow facilitated by participation of United Kingdom in the European Union; and by remote, part of a thriving international world’s commerce, is now being questioned aggressively. The exit of Britain from the EU is still in a limbo or somewhat of a chaos or tragedy, as a recall is being flagged with over three million signatories calling for a recall referendum; however, the die has been cast and Brussels has accepted that Britain is out of the European Union. Many countries across the globe in either a pact or reciprocal commercial arrangements on the way to economic globalization, are now considering the implication of Britain’s exit from the regional economic market or group. Incidentally, the gross inadequate assessment of what has taken place and the potential impact on international commerce are additional issues on the minds of many nations and regional markets. European Union’s commerce and British stock exchange had succeeded during the intervening years of British membership, and may still do likewise; however, for now, it appears the remarkable progress and achievement of interconnectedness of European Union, are being challenged by the realities of the success of the exit campaign from European Union, as revealed in the recent referendum in Britain.

A substantial number of British voters, 17,410,742 (51.9%), reached a consensus that Britain is better off out of EU than inside the twenty-eight-member nation organization. Further, another 16,141,241 (48.1%), believe no one can truly tell, if the success of the ‘Brexit’ campaign, is an aberration, a mistake of the first order, or a tentative setback for Britain or the whole regional market, as they do not share the conviction of the Brexit group and would prefer Britain remain in the EU. By far the most troublesome issue regarding success of ‘Brexit’ campaign from EU, is a new allegation that voters were defrauded, jilted or misled to vote for the exit with incomplete information sharing as to the impact of such a decision on urban residents’ economies in the city of London, Northern Ireland and Scotland provinces. The new reflection or second thought by initial supporters of Brexit has confounded party leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party Leader, who are asking, what’s next? Is Britain moving forward with the results of the referendum; or are cooler heads now prevailing? Until we receive new information on developments regarding the new international challenge across the Atlantic, it will be good to reflect on the reactions of the two leading candidates, Donald Trump(R) and Hillary Clinton (D) for the US Presidency in 2016.

Focusing on the reflections from US Presidential candidates on ‘Brexit’ comes out of voters’ experience with political and economic nationalism that appear to mirror the campaign of at least one of the major US Presidential campaigns for 2016 White House, Donald Trump’s, and that of ‘Brexit’ supporters. For the sanity of those of us who feel an inward looking America will do the nation no good, the way Britain will find out with her exit from EU, are half a dozen lessons of shared possibilities or experiences: 1) economic nationalism has the potential of undermining the freedoms of many minority groups living in America; 2) economic nationalism has the potential of limiting international trade and commerce between America and the remaining 95% of the world’s economy; 3) political nationalism may lead to another nightmare where a segment of the population, Muslim Americans, are ostracized to another second World War II-typed Japanese internment camp in the deserts of California; 4) political nationalism is the first step to nation-wide upheaval from possible antagonism of anti-discrimination affirmative action policies that have helped alleviate centuries of entrenched racial discrimination in America; 5) failure to respond to perceived shortcomings of trade pacts like NAFTA and TPP, appearing to have demarcated the nation into economic losers and winners, is a recipe for the ushering of a possible nationalistic government in the US, one many progressives hardly entertain or appreciate in the White House oval office; and, 6) trust gap between establishment Republicans or Democrats, and their respective rank and file party members, may actually expand to an extent that victory of an America First campaign effort like that of Donald Trump’s may spill into the legislative composition of the US Congress. With due respect, for those election watchers and political strategists who may hold some exceptions on these possibilities or observations in terms of US elections, my response will only be: “the same apprehension was held by the ‘No-Brexit’ group in the last one month, until they woke up to the Friday, June 24th referendum results.”

Reactions to the post-Brexit referendum results in Britain ranged from dismay, surprise and indignation. Many residents of the City of London and provinces of North Ireland and Scotland, who supported a campaign to remain part of EU, never felt it was possible to run a nationalistic campaign that could undermine a forty-three-year participation in a regional market that had afforded free movement and huge investments in Urban Britain. Other European countries that have neither considered the possibility of Britain exiting EU are now faced with the possibility of going through similar referendum in their own country. As highlighted or contemplated in British Telegraphy Newspaper of June 26, 2016: 1) In France, Marine Le Pen has called on the Socialist government to hold an EU referendum – and the country’s most respected philosopher fears his fellow countrymen would probably vote to leave too; 2) Italy’s anti-establishment 5 Star group, which is set to make a major gain in the country’s politics, has also demanded a referendum for possible exit as it believes, “EU just does not work”; 3) Although the Dutch, Holland, holds the presidency of EU, polls suggest they too are strongly in favor of leaving; 4) Swedes, who consider themselves as British kindred, were non-Eurozone member like the British, and may follow Britain out of EU; especially, with polls suggesting that 36% of the population in Sweden backs ‘Swexit’ as against 32% of the population, who would vote to stay within EU. Beyond assuring the possibility of the success of such a referendum in other European nations, nationalist groups in France, Italy, Holland, and Sweden are probably saying their effort is an issue of self-determination, a non-provocative effort to assert the independence of their country from the high-handedness of European Parliament.

Underlying these reactions in the context of American Presidential Campaigns, are found in the words of the Republican presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, that Brexit represents people taking back their country as he expects in US 2016 presidential election; and that the exit of Britain from EU will allow more money to be made, as the fall in the value of the British Pounds, would afford for travels and gains for his golf course in Scotland. This type of perception, is a reminder of the claims by some critics of the 2016 Republican de facto nominee, that he is only out for himself and not the party. His assessment of this international or regional economic impacting referendum and voting outcome in the first place, appears to justify the fact that Mr. Trump is largely interested in his businesses, as he appears to be more interested in the Trump brand and what his campaign can do for the advancement of that brand in the world’s market place. The old alliance of British economy and that of America’s and the potential impact in America’s relationship with the European Union regional market in the absence of Britain from that block, are hardly on the mind of the Republican presumptive nominee. In effect, America’s place in international market place is not of paramount concern of the potential nominee or occupant of US White House, if Mr. Trump ends up winning the election? Mr. Trump’s anti-establishment campaign has disintegrated many Republican aspirants who could have shown more sensitivity or made a much constructive pronouncement of the exit of Britain from the EU and how that may affect international trade with America. Both Brexit and Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House, now appear to be two sides of the same coin: “the glorification and magnification of political and economic nationalism.”

Ironically, it was Hillary Clinton at the Conference of US Mayors in Indianapolis, Indiana, who wittingly corrected the misconception and misapplication of Brexit by his opponent for the 2016 White House oval office with: “we will bounce back from U.K’s Brexit vote.” Adding the following comments to somehow soften the impact of the voting outcome on international psyche and relations: 1) "No one should be confused about America's commitment to Europe, not an autocrat in the Kremlin, not a presidential candidate on a Scottish golf course;" and 2) "who understand that bombastic comments in turbulent times can actually cause more turbulence and who put the interests of the American people ahead of their personal business interests;" as if in response to Donald Trump’s misguided comment in Scotland that, "[He] loves to see people take their country back." Though Atlantic Ocean separates America from Britain, the Democratic Party de facto nominee wants America and international community to know that U.S. stands with its allies. Maybe Hillary Clinton’s comments and assessments of Brexit will assure members of the European Union, including some Britons who have bemoaned the increasing political and economic nationalism influence that appear to be trending in Europe from the exit of Britain from the EU.

People across the globe look at America as the leader of the free world and international commerce. America’s economy continues to impact national and regional markets and there is hardly any regional market across the globe that does not perceive America’s economy as extraordinary, and a leader in many markets for sale and reception of goods and services. The Brexit referendum, like others that may germinate among other members of European Union in the coming months or years, may actually impact regional economic and political stability; that is why cautious and reflective pronouncements in an instance of Brexit voting outcome was essential. Not to seize the opportunity to be an international leader by the Republican de facto nominee for 2016 presidential election is hardly excusable. Those nations across the globe that hardly agree with regional markets and trading pacts that facilitate economic globalization, understand the impact of capacity building from regional markets expansion, they also understand the downside of some of these agreements and or negotiations. Proposal for America to abandon NAFTA and TPP for some of their downsides, probably got a boost from the Brexit vote outcome and probably places Hillary Clinton in the position of an American leader that understands international economics and politics better, and is more reliably and dependable in addressing some of the shortcomings that have somehow created winners and losers in America, Europe and other international or regional markets; appearing to further give voice to economic and political nationalism that is being exploited by Donald Trump for his campaign for the 2016 White House.

Although belated, even if Donald Trump releases one of his incoherent TWEETS or back tracking on an important outcome as Brexit, he is still going to be perceived as a vulnerable leader that is undependable in carrying other nations along on international negotiations and agreements. To back up allies and friends, it is essential to neutralize potential enemies’ contemplation in a situation of ambiguity, which the Brexit outcome has generated within Britain itself as well as in EU member nations. An American leader or potential leader must be able to show and demonstrate that he or she understand complexities that arise from uncertainties and ready to exploit the opportunity to correct, redirect or encourage participants to reevaluate circumstances and decisions leading to change. That is what leadership calls for and for this one, Hillary Clinton won one against Donald Trump. 




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