By Paul Gable
The recent UK vote on whether to remain in or leave the European Union, dubbed Brexit by UK media, may provide some insights into the upcoming US presidential election.
While the Brexit referendum result was a vote against stagnant economy, it was also a vote against the liberal immigration policies of the European Union and against the political establishment in the UK in general.
The Brexit referendum is not binding on the UK Parliament, however, and may be overturned in Westminster when the smoke clears.
David Cameron, Conservative and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, the two major parties in UK politics, campaigned to remain. Now both look to be losing their position as party leader.
For that matter, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the third largest parliamentary party, Scottish National, also campaigned to remain. But, Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union and may have another referendum to leave the United Kingdom if the UK moves forward to leave the EU.
The most visible face of the Leave movement was conservative politician Boris Johnson. Johnson has been in UK politics since 2001 as a Member of Parliament (2001-2008), Mayor of London (2008-2016) and Member of Parliament 2015 to present.
Johnson has been called Donald Trump with a Thesaurus and the similarities are many.
Like Trump, Johnson has been the focus of controversies that would have sunk most politicians but he came out of them with a smile on his face.
Like Trump, Johnson is considered boorish, racist and xenophobic by opponents, but he is able to reach across the political divide to attract non-conservative support.
Like Trump, Johnson’s support comes not from the political establishment in the Conservative Party, but rather from the rank and file voters.
In other words, like Trump, Johnson is a polarizing figure able to take advantage of the emotions of an angry electorate.
For that matter, Corbyn’s support comes from the rank and file Labour voters while the party establishment is far from solidly behind his leadership.
Six months ago, Johnson was unsure of which side of the Brexit issue he stood on. He chose the Leave side in February and became the face of the movement thereafter.
With Conservative Party leader David Cameron having declared he would step down as Prime Minister after the fall party congress, Johnson is considered a favorite to replace him as PM.
Even though there is resistance to Johnson among party establishment figures, Johnson appears poised to take over the Conservative Party as Trump has taken over the Republican Party.
One wonders whether the ‘English Speaking Peoples’ can survive a period with Johnson as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Trump as President of the United States.
But, that may well be the state of the nations after the US presidential elections in November.
If any message from the Brexit referendum vote is to resonate in the US, it is that 2016 is an anti political establishment year and anything can happen when the voters go to the polls.