The decision of UK voters to quit the European Union did not just send shockwaves through British politics. The world was watching, seeking to understand what it may signify for their own futures. Indeed, it was widely seen as the latest demonstration of an anti-establishment trend sweeping across the Western world.
In particular, as I’ve found in numerous Stateside interviews, Americans want to know if this reflects a rise in populist nationalism that will lead to the unlikeliest candidate in their history taking the presidency in November.
On at least a superficial level, there are similarities between Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. Anger towards mass immigration and free trade deals. Distrust of institutions and the mainstream media. The idea that nations have been in decline. Just as the Leave campaign urged Britons to ‘Take Back Control’ of their country, Trump’s slogan is ‘Make America Great Again’.
Brexit also represented a massive shock in betting terms, puncturing the theory that political markets are the ultimate indicator of elections. Leave was given only a 10% chance, trading around 1.1 when polls closed. If a clear correlation between the two votes can be found, 5.0 (20%) about Trump could represent great value.
My view, however, is that punters should be wary of reading too much into Brexit. Rather than ignoring the numerous reasons to oppose Trump, laid out on these pages last week, consider the following five factors.
1) Referendums are fundamentally different from conventional elections
Voters are perfectly capable of distinguishing between a referendum on a profound national question and the party or individual choices on offer at conventional elections. They may very well be angry about immigration and sceptical about free trade, but choosing a government involves countless extra considerations.