The Republican leadership we knew is dead… Even if, by some unforseeable psephological twist, Donald Trump were not now to win this American Presidential election, he will none the less have transformed both his party and his country. The internationalist, free-trading, interventionist Republican leadership that we have known since the war is dead. Trump’s isolationist, protectionist, and nativist candidacy has won out in most states other than those on the Eastern seaboard and west coast. A Vesuvian eruption of white, angry and poorer voters has turned the Left’s identity politics on its head – though it’s worth noting that Hillary Clinton may still win the popular vote.
…And the Republican Party now controls the Senate, the House and judicial appointments. But Trump will win. He is about to become the 45th President of the United States. And his party will control the Senate and the House and Supreme Court nominations. Trump is pledged to quit the Paris Climate Change deal and repeal ObamaCare. He has spoken of barring Muslims from abroad from America and building a vast security wall that Mexico will pay for. It is not certain how much of his programme, which in many ways is inchoate, will be backed by the legislature – or indeed how much of it he will actually pursue. None the less, the Republicans are dominant and some is bound to be enacted.
Trump’s victory is likely to have the effect of speeding Brexit… Trump was out-spent, out-organised, out-endorsed, out-debated and out-get-out-the-voted by Hillary Clinton. Yet he won. The earthquake that his triumph represents will not be lost on MPs – especially Labour ones in the northern and midlands seats whose voters plumped en masse for Brexit last June, just as their equivalents lined up for the Republican candidate yesterday in America’s rust belt and industrial north-eastern states. The odds now are that Parliamentarians will be just a bit more frightened of holding up any bill or motion to move Article 50.
…It will ensure that Britain has a pro-Brexit Government behind it in the United States, which can only help when negotiations with the EU institutions and other European countries begin…
…But it may well boost Marine Le Pen and Germany’s AfD in the French and German elections to come. Perhaps European voters will react against what’s happened in America. But electoral logic points the other way. Le Pen has been growing the Front National’s support, as the AfD has its own in Germany. In Italy, Matteo Renzi may lose his referendum on constitutional reform, and the country’s banks are in delicate condition. Some British commentary tends to assume that our interlocutors in the coming negotiations will be much the same people as govern European countries now, and that we will be presented with a united front. These assumptions are very far from being certainties.
And a Trump presidency can only be good for Putin and bad for NATO. Trump has made it very clear that he wants a closer relationship with Vladimir Putin. How will he react, as the leader of the country that is the leading member of NATO, if Putin seeks to undermine the Baltic States – first destabilising them, then stoking up separatist conflict, even perhaps intervening directly? Would Trump really be willing to meet America’s NATO obligations? If he were not, that would be the end of the collective security umbrella that protected western Europe for over half a century, and now helps to guarantee the peace and independence of Eastern Europe. The possibility of the collapse of NATO is alarming.
Britain’s role as the only armed power in western Europe – with the exception of France – is therefore even more important this morning. Our neighbours will be looking to us for more help. That has public spending implications. It could also give us a bit more leverage in the Brexit negotiations, together with the security expertise that we have as one of the “five eyes”.
The pound is already up against the dollar, and may stay there for quite a while. So we may need to revisit expectations of plunging sterling and inflation, especially if the voters’ revolt spreads to the continent this summer and autumn.
And finally, Theresa May could have to call in Nigel Farage. The Conservatives and the Republicans have been drifting apart for many years. The Prime Minister’s people don’t know Trump’s people. The political Brit who knows him best is Nigel Farage. Time to send the former UKIP leader to Washington?