The vote went for Brexit. The hounds of chaos have been unleashed. Is this a harbinger of a Trump victory in November? Political trends in the US have first shown in the UK before, with Margaret Thatcher predating Ronald Reagan and Tony Blair arriving before Bill Clinton. More importantly, the polls were as wrong on Brexit as they were on Cameron’s big win in the last Parliamentary elections. Is this a sign?
The short answer is “Yes”, but the long answer is “No”. This has a long way to play out before the US votes, and we don’t yet know what will happen. There will be a lot more anarchy in the UK and the final lesson is far from written.
The financial and political fallout over Brexit is far from complete. Monday will see a new day for stocks around the world as the reality is digested. A spike in 10yr Treasuries, briefly yielding a near record 1.50%, shows how the flight to a safe harbor is underway.
Politically, the resignation of David Cameron has created a leadership vacuum that will not be filled easily. Boris Johnson, very much the UK’s Trump, is making his play for Prime Minister but will certainly face stiff opposition in the Conservative Party. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has the knives out for euroskeptic Jeremy Corbyn.
The only party with intact leadership is the Scottish National Party, and Nicola Sturgeon is not wasting her moment. The initial response to Brexit, a call for a new referendum on Scottish Independence, is morphing into a plan to block leaving. It’s not clear if that can be done, but with the only responsible party a separatist one the only possible result can be chaos.
A new Parliamentary election is likely soon. If Labour gets its act together, running and winning on a pro-Europe platform this all could be negated. But this is a longshot. The key is that we can’t jump to any conclusions for quite a while.
There has been a wave of racist incidents in the wake of all this, laying bare the problems that have come from a rapidly changing Britain. For years I’ve noted that the BBC did its best to portray racial harmony, clearly trying to avoid mistakes the US made with segregation and white privilege. They apparently made different mistakes in the process. Whitewashing racism and pretending it does not exist only allows it to fester unseen, as the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and its leader Nigel Farage has shown.
Britain has a lot to confront today, and it won’t be easy. Racism and violence are not supposed to be welcome there. It’s up to the decent people of the UK to step up and take action – a backlash to the backlash that has yet to materialize.
Meanwhile, here in the US, the warning shot has not gone without notice. Does this mean the Trump phenom is real and has to be dealt with? Of course it does. Fortunately, we don’t have a tight focus for the “America First” crowd like the EU to focus their anger. It is a key difference.
Polls currently show Clinton with a consistent 12 point lead as we head into the convention cycle. Things will only get worse for Trump and we can reasonably expect that, barring a disastrous Democratic Convention, her lead will only increase. The generic congressional poll shows Democrats have an advantage, too. Normalizing the results without the “don’t know” the lead is 54% – 39%, which is in the range necessary to overtake gerrymandering and actually take the House.
So far, there is no reason to believe that the election is going as off-script as the Brexit vote. Then again, they didn’t see it coming in the UK, either.
Where does this leave us? The possibility of the US taking the UK lead once again has to give us all pause. What we have yet to see is where this all settles out and how it resonates through a complicated parliamentary system with many different parties. Voters may well run for stability in the US once we digest how the chaos has played.
There is a lesson to be learned here, but we don’t know what it is yet. Time will tell. In the meantime, Barataria is done making predictions for a while. We all have to watch and stay tuned to our values.