Donald Trump, stop trying to foist the disaster of Brexit onto Americans like me – populism is destroying the US and Britain

The US will be bombarded with sparkly images of their commander-in-chief sipping tea in royal grandeur this week. But the real story reveals a reality of disenfranchisement, embarrassment and economic self-harm

Nash Riggins
Tuesday 04 June 2019 10:25
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Stephen Colbert talks about president Trump's UK visit

America and Britain are basically two sides of the same coin. Deny it all you want – Americans are probably just as terrified of Marmite as Britons are of regressive abortion laws and the Second Amendment. But try not to stress about yeast extract or mass murder for now. Even the closest siblings have the odd tiff, so let’s just stick a pin in it.

We’ve got a bigger problem on our hands here, and that problem is obviously Brexit.

The EU referendum unlocked something inconceivably toxic in this country – a public vitriol unleashed by a gaggle of wannabe Victorian millionaires pedalling nationalistic snake oil.

Vote Leave rocked the status quo with its meticulously crafted narrative about making Britain great again. A slim and silent majority lapped up campaign promises of a quick and amenable divorce from those fast-talking foreigners in Brussels, directly followed by a new golden era in British history and a chance to see that mighty English lion recall its rightful place at the forefront of human existence.

Three years on, that lion’s had a botched neutering and can’t seem to stop chasing its damn tail. But for some reason, metaphorical castration doesn’t seem to frighten Donald Trump. In fact, Trump’s so obsessed with Brexit that he actually makes Jacob Rees-Mogg look like some flaccid Remainer. Why?

Leavers defied the odds to prove huge numbers of disenfranchised voters can (and will) buy into nationalist allegories so long as you tell them whatever they want to hear. By preying upon the economic anxieties and racial insecurities of a squeezed middle class, Brexit proved any looney toon with a loudmouth and serious cash could waltz right into power.

And that’s exactly what Trump did. Britain literally tossed that clown’s campaign the ultimate Hail Mary.

After the referendum, Trump’s giddy team bent over backwards to associate him with the UK’s populist uprising. At rallies, Trump shunned important domestic issues to focus on Brexit and how it proved voters could prevent foreigners from “coming in and destroying their country”. He told reporters it was a “great thing” for the British economy, found a new campaign prop in Nigel Farage and, just like disillusioned Brits, Americans took the bait.

The conservative zealots over at Fox News proudly proclaimed with zero irony that “Trump is our Brexit”, and supporters have spent three years now churning out a constant flow of demagoguery about the American and British people’s shared rejection of globalism, how we should all be more like Marine Le Pen and why the whole world needs more of Trump’s strongman approach.

Ok, what’s done is done. But before Americans continue chugging along the Brexit Express with their muppet conductor, can we just pause for a quick look at where populism has landed Britain?

The ruling Conservatives have been excruciatingly kneecapped. The senseless infighting has ripped the party to shreds, resulting in repeated electoral failure, 36 resignations in 12 months and legislative gridlock. The fragmented left can do no better, so Westminster can’t reach compromise, pass Brexit or cancel it. That’s led to global embarrassment and disenfranchisement, but nothing compares to the economic self-harm we’ve committed.

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The pound’s value has dropped 11 per cent, hundreds of companies have left London and our economy won’t stop shrinking – losing the country £350m per week (irony, much?) and costing every family £400 apiece. Add a 22 per cent rise in hate crimes, and you can’t help but wonder: why would anybody choose less money, more crime and a pathetically ineffective government?

And don’t say “Brexit”, because that’s not even happened. So far, literally all of this has been for nothing. So, there it is.

Americans are going to be paraded with loads of sparkly images of their commander-in-chief bathing in ritual and sipping tea in royal grandeur this week. Those optics are great for Trump, our outgoing prime minister and the 13 Tory buzzards hungrily circling what’s left of her dignity.

They’ll reinforce this preposterous narrative that all’s well in the land of Brexit, the special relationship is perfect and America should continue to follow the UK into the political abyss.

Please, America, don’t fall for it. Regardless of what you keep on hearing, bigotry and isolationism are not a good look – and US voters have got to wake up and see Brexit for what it really is before it's too late.

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