from The Water's Edge

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: Trump Gives Brexit a Thumbs Up

June 24, 2016

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

Global markets aren’t happy with the British vote to exit the European Union. But Donald Trump sure is. At a press conference for the opening of his new luxury golf resort, Trump Turnberry in western Scotland, the country where his mother was born, he called the vote “historic,” saying of British voters:

They’re angry over borders, they’re angry over people coming into the country and taking over, nobody even knows who they are. They’re angry about many, many things. They took back control of their country. It’s a great thing.

More on:

Elections and Voting

Brexit

Trump is certainly right that the British vote is historic, though it’s far from obvious that it’s a great thing. To be sure, not all divorces are bad ideas. And yes, sometimes outcomes that horrify experts turn out to be great things in retrospect.

But getting from today’s tumult to tomorrow’s smooth sailing won’t be easy or quick, if it can be done at all. Britain’s divorce from the EU will take time, and talks that begin amicably can end acrimoniously. Europeans now have to answer big questions they once thought settled about what the European Union should be. David Cameron is a caretaker prime minister while the Conservative Party searches for its next leader, and the United Kingdom may not survive in its current form. Even if it does, it’s far from clear what kind of global role, if any, a Britain outside the EU will play.

The United States will largely be a bystander in all this as governments “over there” work through the many issues Brexit has unleashed. But the process could have immense consequences for the United States, which for more than half a century has counted on Europe as its main global partner. At a minimum, Brexit guarantees that a Europe already consumed with problems at home will turn even more inward. That’s not good news for Washington.

Trump, though, is nonchalant. When asked if he had consulted his policy advisers about the British vote, he said "there’s nothing to talk about.” Perhaps. But I suspect that the next president will discover that Brexit has indeed given the United States plenty to talk about.

In Case You Missed It

More on:

Elections and Voting

Brexit

Donald Trump laced into Hillary Clinton in a speech on Wednesday, accusing the former secretary of state of being “a world class liar,” perhaps “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency,” and someone who managed to “almost single-handedly destabilize the Middle East.” To highlight its claims that Clinton is a liar, the Trump campaign launched a new website, lyingcrookedhillary.com. Earlier in the week, Trump told Face the Nation that “profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country,” and that “racial or religious profiling would ‘not [be] the worst thing to do.’”

Clinton attacked Trump in a speech she delivered on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. She argued that his economic policies make him unfit to serve as president: “Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the [nuclear] button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy.” On the heels of the speech, the Clinton campaign released a fact sheet listing the criticisms that Democrats, Republicans, and the news media have leveled against Trump’s economic policies. The Clinton campaign also released a ninety second YouTube video titled “Bad Businessman.” The video challenges Trump’s business acumen and was accompanied by a new website, artofthesteal.biz, a take-off on Trump’s best-selling business book, The Art of the Deal.

Morning Consult released a poll on Wednesday that found that 41 percent of voters trust Trump to keep the United States safe compared to 37 percent for Clinton. The poll also found that 48 percent of voters support Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigrants.

Vice President Biden denounced Trump’s foreign policy proposals and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security advisor to Presidents Ford and George H. W. Bush, endorsed Clinton on Wednesday. Meanwhile, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said he was voting for Trump. Marco Rubio used his announcement that he now intends to run for reelection to the U.S. Senate to describe his disagreements with Trump and to promise to “stand up to the bad decisions and the bad policies if [Trump is] elected president.”

Edward Luce argued that Trump missed an essential opportunity to moderate his platform after securing the nomination. Both Dara Lind and Chris Cillizza described Trump’s Wednesday speech as coherent, but neither was sure it marked a rhetorical change big enough to win a general election. Jeffery Lewis pointed out the dangers in Trump’s criticism of the United States’ nuclear arsenal. Zachary Karabell explored the obstacles Trump may face trying to implement an immigration ban. Dara Lind argued that his anti-immigration rhetoric is making it more difficult for immigrants to assimilate. A Moody’s analysis concluded that “the upshot of Mr. Trump’s economic policy positions under almost any scenario is that the U.S. economy will be more isolated and diminished.”

The New York Times fact checked Trump’s rebuttal of Clinton’s recent speech. John Mauldin examined Clinton’s internationalism and Trump’s “America first” foreign policy. Nick Gass offered a list of areas in which Trump will continue to attack Clinton in the general election. Eli Rosenberg reviewed the many ways Mexicans are mocking Trump for his criticisms of Mexico.

Isaac Stanley-Becker argued that Clinton is better equipped to handle a significant national crisis. Evan Resnick criticized Clinton’s “hawkish proclivities” as secretary of state, calling them dangerous to American foreign policy. Fred Kaplan described Clinton’s foreign policy as “the Obama-plus-a-bit doctrine.”

Looking Ahead

The Republican National Convention convenes in twenty-four days at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 18. The Democratic National Convention follows shortly after at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on July 25.

Election Day is 137 days away.

Brett Ekberg and Jonathan Hyman assisted in the preparation of this post.

Close