Donald Trump said Friday that the same forces that drove Great Britain to pull out of the European Union will help him win the presidency in November – and he’s not the only one who thinks so.
Some experts are saying the stunning move has in fact increased the possibility of a President Trump.
Nicolas Véron, a senior fellow at Bruegel, an independent research institution in Brussels, told The New York Times that the Brexit vote was “essentially against economic rationality and driven by identity concerns and unease about globalization and trade.” “If such a vote can win in the U.K.,” he said, “that fosters among investors a sense of the likelihood that Trump can also win.”
And the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board declared Brexit “a big bump for Trump,” writing that the decision “ratifies his arguments that citizens should reject the dictates of technocrats, politicians and self-anointed experts.”
But William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former policy advisor to then-President Bill Clinton, tells PEOPLE that while there are significant structural parallels between the two elections, that doesn’t mean that what happened in the U.K. is going to have an impact on the U.S. 2016 race.
“I think the answer to that question is almost certainly no,” Galston said.
“On the other hand,” he added, “one of the things that became clear in the course of the [Brexit] vote count last night was that most of the British surveys were off. They appeared to have systematically overstated support for the ‘Remain’ campaign, and understated support for the ‘Leave’ campaign.”
“If it’s the case that there were a bunch of people who knew they were going to vote ‘Leave’ but for various sorts of reasons of social correctness, didn’t want to tell a live interviewer that that’s what they were going to do, then there might be some parallels between the U.S. and the U.K. and might lead some people to suspect that maybe the U.S. polls are understating the amount of real support for Donald Trump.”
As for the comparisons being drawn between Trump and Boris Johnson, the leader of the “Leave” campaign, Galston said, “There are certainly some structural parallels between Donald Trump’s supporters and the supporters of the U.K. Independence Party and the ‘Leave’ campaign, there’s no question about that. As a matter of fact, the coalitions look very much the same.”
Gaston acknowledged similarities between the two men, who he said are both “absolutely spontaneous in speech and action,” but added that Johnson, as a politician and former mayor of London, has a far superior understanding of government than Trump.
“Boris Johnson is a highly cultivated graduate of Eaton and Oxford who does a pretty good imitation of being a man of the people from time to time; he was a very popular London mayor,” Galston said. “I think Boris Johnson knows 100 times as much about government and public policy as Donald Trump does. Boris Johnson is a politician, Donald Trump is not – and it shows. So I wouldn’t drive the parallel too far, but if you look not at the men, but the coalition, then the parallel is really striking.”
The BBC offered five reasons why the Brexit vote means Trump will win the White House, arguing that the presumptive GOP nominee and Johnson “have tapped into a similar public mood of disgruntlement” and “a sense of broken pride.”
The outlet also cited populism, immigration and globalization as key issues driving both Brexit and Trump supporters. “If you are a white working class man (in particular) the combined effects of immigration, free trade and technology have made your job and your wages less secure,” the BBC’s Katty Kay writes, adding, “Boris Johnson and Donald Trump appeal to the heart not the head, they offer simple solutions in a time of complex problems.”
And The Washington Post warns: “Stop underestimating Trump. [The] ‘Brexit’ vote shows why he can win,” pointing out that the Brexit campaign, like Trump’s, “was fueled by grievance.”
Donald Trump on Brexit Vote: ‘They Took Their Country Back, Just Like We Will Take America Back’
Trump himself said Friday that he sees “a big parallel” between British “Leave” voters and his own supporters.
“People want to take their country back, they want to have independence in a sense, and you see it all over Europe,” the billionaire businessman said at the re-opening of his Turnberry golf course in Scotland, shortly after the “Brexit” outcome was announced.
The presumptive GOP nominee, who was greeted by protesters carrying golf balls with Nazi swastikas, called the move “a good thing” and said on Twitter that Britons “took their country back, just like we will take America back.”
But as Trump praised Scotland for taking its “country back,” he appeared not to know that said country had voted resoundingly to remain in the EU. In fact, the U.K.’s northernmost country is now likely to seek independence for a second time this decade following the EU vote, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Friday.
Trump issued a statement on the vote on Facebook, writing, “Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first.”
He followed up with another post that read, “Self-determination is the sacred right of all free people’s, and the people of the UK have exercised that right for all the world to see.”
But for all his declarations of support for Brits who voted to leave the EU, Trump’s comments about the impact on the world economy focused on his own bottom line and potential for personal profit.
In the wake of the vote, global financial markets plunged, the British pound plummeted to a 31-year low, and Trump saw the tumble of the world’s fifth-largest economy as “a positive” – for business at Turnberry.
“Look, if the pound goes down, they’re going to do more business. When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry,” Trump said at his golf resort in Scotland Friday.
The timing of the mogul’s visit to the U.K. on such a monumental day gave him a chance to show his bona fides as a leader on the world stage. Before addressing the Brits’ historic referendum, Trump spent 13 minutes boasting about the sprinkler system and other top-of-the-line upgrades his company made at Turnberry to make it the “best Par 3 in the world.” Running a golf course, he said, was comparable to running a country: “You’ll be amazed how similar it is. It’s a place that has to be fixed.”
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also saw a messaging opportunity in the Brexit chaos on Friday, taking to Twitter to say: “This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House.” Hillary #BrexitVote.”