The Brexit vote, in which voters in the United Kingdom (UK) decided Thursday to leave the European Union (EU), has political and policy experts at the University of Houston debating whether or not the UK’s move toward sovereignty foreshadows what will occur in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in November.
“The parallel, if there is one [between the UK and U.S.], is the loss of sovereignty felt by the UK voters and their negative reaction to EU rules and processes,” director at the Hobby Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston Jim Granato explained to Breitbart News.
“This time, the issue seems to center on immigration policy. The potential linkage to Donald Trump’s “America First” point of view and his criticism of “globalism” does raise the prospect of something similar happening in the upcoming presidential election,” Granato added.
Granato echoes many pundits who suggested the populist-nationalist movement in the UK will impact the U.S. in favor of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
However, Dr. Beverly Barrett, a scholar in European Union affairs and University of Houston professor, doesn’t completely agree.
“Leaving the EU, through a legitimate democratic referendum process, is reasserting sovereignty in trade, transportation, agriculture, employment and migration policies,” Barrett explained. “The Britons have voted to have their own voice – rather than be part of the EU negotiations on migration – in order to take direct control over their economic and national security.”
Barrett noted the U.S. has to make important decisions on whether or not to expand trade and migration.
The candidates in the U.S. have been less open to trade than the positions in the UK, which remains open to negotiation. Therefore, you cannot make a sharp parallel between the countries. The election in the UK is more about their relationship to Europe and their place in the world, and less about what may happen in the U.S., which is a very different political environment than in Britain.
UK voters who voted to leave the EU wanted to take control over trade deals and migration policy for their country rather than having an open border policy and regulations determined by the EU. Migration and trade are two issues driving presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s “America First” 2016 campaign. The move away from globalism in the UK may imply voters in the U.S. will do the same come November.
“The reassertion of sovereignty is parallel to a slowing down of globalization’s influence on the UK,” she added, noting the campaign language used in the UK is different from the language used in the US.
The political context in the UK and the US are different, given that the EU has been part of the supra-national organization of the EU. The UK wishes to determine its future independently of the EU. While both countries face migration pressures, the UK is seeking to write its own rules rather than abide by EU collective rules. While the US the dialogue on migration reform continues, the language the political candidates choose to use will be critical to building up alliances or to alienating voters.
When asked by Breitbart News when a past move by UK voters foreshadowed a parallel in American politics, both experts pointed to the elections of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and President Ronald Reagan in 1980. Granato cites:
One example goes back to the late 1970s and the rise of Margaret Thatcher in the UK. Then, the political change was due, in part, to stagflation and poor macroeconomic practices that gave rise to a conservative alternative. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, an ideological kindred spirit, led to a sea change in macroeconomic policy and the ultimate end to stagflation. It also foretold a change in foreign policy as well, particularly in dealing with the former Soviet Union.
“Economically, both politicians advocated for free market enterprise and neo-liberal economic reforms such as privatization and deregulation that became mainstream during the 1980s. Politically, both politicians were leading voices together on the global stage to bring an end to the Cold War,” Barrett added of Thatcher and Reagan.