What It Means For Britain If Donald Trump Actually Wins

As America decides, Esquire's politics guru Bobby Friedman explains how having a Donald in the White House will affect the rest of us

Most Popular

It wasn't so long ago that British politics was dominated by stories about Ed Miliband's inability to eat a bacon sandwich. Just two years down the line, even the mind-boggling thought of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party seems almost normal in comparison to the tumultuous fallout from Brexit.

For Americans, today will determine whether their own impossible scenario is about to become a reality. A couple of years ago, the idea of Donald Trump as leader of the free world would have appeared as likely as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie turning up on a Victoria's Secret catwalk.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Now, the chances seem altogether less remote. While the polls are still moving even as we reach election day itself, Trump's chances of making it to the White House are - according to the widely-respected FiveThirtyEight political blog - somewhere north of 30%. To put that in context, if the pollsters are out by the same margin of error this year as they were when Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney, then Trump could soon be measuring up some hideously garish curtains for the Oval Office.

Most Popular

In an election campaign dominated by Hillary's emails and The Donald's females, real focus on policy has been thin on the ground. Although many in the UK are fearful of what the future would hold – with a WIN/ Gallup poll finding that two-thirds of us are backing Hillary Clinton – the emphasis has been on personality not political positions. If Trump wins, the focus would have to shift to the reality of what his Presidency would actually mean.

The United States drives the world's economy, and Britain's too, so the choice of President is crucial. 20% of UK exports are sent to America, and we are each other's largest foreign investors. Trump's election would cause short-term uncertainty that would be likely to make it harder for us to export to the US.

The dollar is also likely to take what has become appropriately known as a "pounding", with the currency predicted to fall sharply if Trump wins, just as sterling has done since 23 June. However, the pound would remain weak against other currencies, and so any impact on the UK would be relatively limited.

There is some better news for the UK, though. Trump has called himself "Mr Brexit" and has promised that Britain will not be "at the back of the queue" for a trade deal. Given that Trump's closest ally in this country seems to be Nigel Farage, who appeared on the stump for The Donald during the campaign, there may be some cause for trepidation. Nonetheless, there may be a genuine possibility for Britain to improve its trading position with its most important economic partner. Instead of scrabbling around for treaties with lesser economies, Trump's election would provide a real opportunity to strengthen ties with our biggest market.

And, whisper it quietly, there are many who believe that Trump's economic policies would be good for the US – and the rest of the world, too. He's planning to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, with a huge road-building programme, and would combine that with tax cuts and, so he says, the eradication of red tape. It's an odd mix of policies, with some appealing to blue collar Democrats and others to business-orientated Republicans. But when you have a multi-millionaire celebrity setting out his stall as a champion of the white working class, it's unsurprising that not everything will add up.

There are plenty more surprises when you delve further into Trump's manifesto. He's set out a number of helpful policies for those with children, promising longer maternity leave and tax breaks for childcare. But if that sounds liberal, then Trump's promises to repeal Obamacare, protect the right to bear arms and cut funding for pro-choice groups are anything but. And he's still insisting that he'll build a barricade on the southern US border: "Mexico will pay for the wall", his website proclaims in bright red letters.

Inevitably, though, Trump's impact would be felt most keenly in foreign policy. Here, too, there are contradictions. As Commander-in-Chief, Trump has promised to keep US forces on home soil and to refrain from "nation-building". One wonders, then, what use he'll have for the 90,000 soldiers. 42 ships and 100 fighter aircraft that he's preparing to add to the United States' military capabilities. What does seem clear is that America's traditional allies, including the UK, will have to go it alone more often, making it less likely that we would become involved in another war in the Middle East.

All of the signs are that Trump will take a similarly isolationist role when it comes to other international agreements. Under the banner of a policy of "America First" – with shades of President Frank Underwood there – Trump has emphasised, "Americanism, not globalism". Many predict that this will lead to the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change, while there will be even less prospect of Syrian refugees finding a safe haven on the other side of the Atlantic.

But the problem with any analysis of what Trump will do is that it's impossible to take account of his unpredictability; this is what Donald Rumsfeld would have called the "known unknown". Trump's attention span is famously short. He may not intend to press the nuclear button, but there is no telling whether he might do so if the mood takes him. There is an even greater difficulty, too, which is that Trump is, by many accounts, a bare-faced liar. As Tony Schwarz, the ghost-writer on his bestselling business book, The Art of the Deal, told the New Yorker, Trump "lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it."

So the world will have to wait to see exactly which way the wind blows if The Donald reaches the White House. Trump once tweeted that, "While Bette Midler is an extremely unattractive woman, I refuse to say that because I always insist on being politically correct." So when it comes to commenting on whether Donald Trump is an incompetent buffoon who'd be a disastrous President, I refuse to say that because I always insist on being impartial.