Brexit Underscores Trump, Clinton Contrast on Trade

Clinton's campaign accused Trump of putting "his golf business ahead of the interests of working families.” (Rob Kunzig/Morning Consult)

The choice by voters in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union provided one of the starkest points of contrast between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a friend of globalization and international cooperation, and Donald Trump, who has advocated for an “America first” approach to trade.

In the view of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign, Trump’s response to the U.K. vote to leave the European Union prove him to be “temperamentally unfit” for the presidency, and Americans – seeing the continent’s economic instability – will be looking for “steady leadership.”

The remarks from the Clinton campaign’s senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan and Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri came hours after Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, held a press event in Scotland that blurred the line between a promotion for his golf course and his response to one of the largest geopolitical shifts in decades.

“Donald Trump actively rooted for this outcome and he is rooting for the economic turmoil in its wake,” Sullivan told reporters, noting Trump’s comments that a weakened British pound might increase travel to his Scottish resort. “He actually put his golf business ahead of the interests of working families.”

Many have cited populist and nationalist undertones as the wind behind the sails of the Brexit, as did Trump, when he said Friday that there were parallels between the Leave movement and those backing his campaign.

Speaking in Scotland on Friday, Trump said U.K. voters “want to take their borders back, they want to take their monetary back, they want to take a lot of things back.” In a written statement, Trump said Americans, too, “will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first.”

Trump was echoed by his top congressional surrogate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, who used the development to knock Clinton for supporting “sovereignty-eroding” globalization efforts, such as trade deals.

“Great Britain’s rejection of it must serve as a wake-up call for all of us in America,” the Alabama Republican said. “I applaud yesterday’s strong and patriotic action taken by America’s special friend, retaking its independence. … I believe the American people too will choose independence this November.”

Palmieri said the United Kingdom is not the United States, and that it would be wrong to over-apply a political analysis about what happened there to here. Instead, Clinton’s campaign argued that if anything, the economic concerns raised by the Brexit should give them pause about supporting Trump.

“We believe American families are going to see the results of the vote today and ask themselves if they’re looking for economic uncertainty, risky and dangerous propositions,” Sullivan said, “or whether they want somebody who can be a steady hand.”

The decision by 52 percent of U.K. voters rattled global stock markets over uncertainty about what’s next for the United Kingdom and the European Union, the largest single market in the world.

The finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-7 countries issued a joint statement Friday, saying they “affirm our assessment that the UK economy and financial sector remain resilient and are confident that the UK authorities are well-positioned to address the consequences of the referendum outcome.”

Morning Consult