How a Donald Trump Victory Is Similar to Brexit

Trump's victory likened to Britain’s stunning vote to leave the E.U.

ByABC News
November 9, 2016, 12:48 PM

— -- Donald Trump's win on Election Day has been likened to Britain’s stunning vote to leave the European Union -- but bigger.

Trump hailed the Brexit vote as a harbinger to his winning the presidency, drawing a parallel to the raucous British debate over whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, despite warnings from elites that such a move would be a mistake.

Brexit, short for “British exit,” refers to the vote Britain held in June to withdraw from the European Union, a political and economic alliance made up of 28 countries.

Trump called his candidacy “Brexit plus,” saying that just as a populist movement in Britain led to the vote to leave the E.U., so too would a similar spirit usher him into the White House. His argument was dismissed as folly by his critics. Now, the parallels will once again be examined.

"Ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement,” Trump said in his victory speech.

Fueled by grievance, the Trump vote seems particularly similar to what occurred in Britain where voters were upset over immigration and trade policies they felt worked against them.

"Brexit and the Trump victory are centered in exactly the same phenomenon," said James Hartley, professor and chair of economics at Mount Holyoke College. "A large portion of the electorate in both countries is tired of the intellectual elites telling them what to think and looking down on them for having a different opinion."

In the end, America did exactly what the U.K. did, with analysts pointing to the vote results in both counties as evidence of a disconnect between the ruling elite and the disenchanted and skeptical voters across the electorate. Trump often spoke to his base about a "rigged system." In the U.K., the Brexit vote was a similar case of those going to vote who felt let down by a system split into the haves and have-nots. Many observers have described the Brexit vote as a revolt against the elite.

"Now, it's time for America to bind the wounds of division -- have to get together," Trump said Wednesday morning after receiving a concession call from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. "To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."

The fallout from Brexit is not as dramatic as the historical win for the real-estate mogul, who will now become the most powerful person on the planet.

After Brexit, the markets reacted in surprise. After projections suggested on Election Day that Trump was on course to win, the Dow Jones futures plummeted about 800 points. Wall Street still seems in recovery mode.

PHOTO: President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 in New York.
President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 in New York.

Trump will likely win at least 270 electoral votes, according to ABC News projections, and will take his Republican ticket to the White House in January.

"The shock after both elections is a sure sign that the intellectual elites are completely isolated from half of the electorate," Hartley said.

On Twitter, a forum Trump often used as his megaphone during his campaign, the president-elect called his win "beautiful and important."

The White House issued a statement today that President Obama plans to make the transition a priority.

"Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step," the White House statement read.

British supporters of leaving the E.U., mostly conservatives, had called for a vote on whether to remain in the alliance, arguing a referendum on the issue hadn’t been held since 1975.

Advocates of Brexit said that being outside the E.U. would boost the British economy by placing fewer regulations on consumers, employers and the environment. It also would give the country more freedom to establish its own economic and political policies, they argued. The British pound has since hit lows not seen in more than 140 years.

Related Topics