Britain’s vote to leave the European Union reverberated through America’s political class and dominated news networks.

Barack Obama, who spoke in favour of Britain remaining in the EU during a recent visit, was kept informed of the results while in San Francisco for an entrepreneurship summit. As the results trickled through, he was at a dinner with business and tech leaders and made no public comment.

The White House issued a statement that said: “The president has been briefed on the incoming returns in the UK referendum, and he will continue to be updated by his team as the situation warrants. We expect the president will have an opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Cameron over the course of the next day, and we will release further comment as soon as appropriate.”

The state department was silent in the early hours of Friday morning but some observers were quick to draw parallels with US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has been riding an anti-immigration wave.

Frank Luntz, a leading political consultant and pollster, said: “I have seen the future. If a wave of voter populism can sweep Britain out of Europe, it can sweep Donald Trump to the presidency in America.

“The anger I heard in Britain is far wider and deeper in America. Just as leave exceeded every poll, so did Donald Trump in the primaries. And that may well continue into the fall.”

Related: Why Americans Should Celebrate the Brexit Vote

David Axelrod, former political strategist for Obama, tweeted: “Once again, polling and pundits in Britain got it wrong, albeit with less conviction than last year’s election…. @David_Cameron promised this Brexit vote to get through the last election. Will he survive the result?”

The outcome took many in Washington by surprise and contemplating the implications. The International Monetary Fund has estimated that a “Brexit” could knock up to half a percentage point off the combined output of all advanced economies by 2019, including the US. Traders on Wall Street are braced for volatility.

Heather Conley, director of the Europe programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said: “Most Americans, when they wake up, will be very shocked. I woke up this morning and the markets had already called this. Now full attention is on the markets.

“Obviously we’re waiting to see what response there is from the prime minister. There is general preparation for a long period of uncertainty.”

During his recent trip to London, Obama warned that Britain would be at the “back of the queue” in terms of trade deals with the US after a Brexit. Conley said: “The president’s visit was clearly a gamble. He wanted to weigh in and he was asked to weigh in. It was unprecedented. It’s now about how this process unfolds. How is the US going to work with its European partners and London to make sure the process is transparent?”

Trump is currently in Scotland, Conley noted, and will have his own views on the outcome: “This changes everything. We all need to learn from this. For me, the immediate takeaway is that for far too long political leaders and the institutions they represent haven’t been listening.

“When you lose support for your positions you have to change course. For too long our elites have not been listening to how people are hurting and this is the clearest example, a very dramatic result. We need to start listening to British and American people and Europeans at large and bring them into the conversation more fully.”

Obama will meet key European leaders at the Nato summit in Warsaw next month. National security experts have warned that a British exit would put at risk the postwar project of a free and peaceful Europe that the UK and US once worked closely to create.

Steve Clemons, editor at large of the Atlantic magazine, told the MSNBC network: “It’s a giant inflection point in the world. I think there are a lot of people in the strategic sector who think it doesn’t affect arenas like military alliances, but I’m not so sure. It does raise questions like, is one nation’s security another nation’s security? Now you have for the first time in Europe a nation effectively secede.”

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved.


This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.

No votes yet.
Please wait...