U.S. Leaders Divided Over United Kingdom's Vote To Exit EU

Jun 24, 2016
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Germany's chancellor kept her cool. France's president showed his shock. The reactions were all over the place today to the British vote to leave the European Union. We'll hear more from Europe in a moment. The vote shook up the political world here in the U.S., too.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Donald Trump, who is in the U.K. to celebrate the opening of a golf resort, cheered the results. The Obama administration acknowledged it was hoping for a different outcome.

SHAPIRO: Now forecasters are trying to divine what signal the U.K. vote may be sending for the U.S. presidential race. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Standing near the ninth hole of his namesake golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, today, Donald Trump said he sees parallels between the U.K.'s vote to ditch the European Union and the groundswell of support for his own presidential campaign.

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DONALD TRUMP: People want to take their country back. You're going to have, I think, many other cases where they want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary back. They want to take a lot of things back. They want to be able to have a country again.

HORSLEY: Indeed, many of the signs and slogans employed in the Brexit campaign would look and sound right at home at an American Trump rally. Only the accents would be different. Political analyst Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution notes voters behind both movements tend to be older and whiter.

BILL GALSTON: The two elections have a lot in common. But the differences are also noteworthy.

HORSLEY: Given the more diverse population in the U.S., Galston says, Trump could have difficulty matching the success of the leave campaign. He says what the U.K. vote does highlight, though, is growing skepticism on both sides of the Atlantic about the benefits of globalization.

GALSTON: It divides populations in advanced economies into winners and losers. And the winners have done a very poor job of recognizing the plight of the losers, let alone acting aggressively to compensate them for their losses.

HORSLEY: President Obama seemed to acknowledge as much today, when he spoke to a group of global entrepreneurs at Stanford University.

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BARACK OBAMA: I do think that yesterday's vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalization.

HORSLEY: The freer international flow of goods and people has the possibility of extraordinary benefits, Obama says. But he admits the gains are not evenly shared.

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OBAMA: And it also evokes concerns and fears.

HORSLEY: Back in April, Obama urged U.K. voters not to pull away from Europe, warning if they did, they'd find themselves at the back of the line in trade talks with the U.S. Obama said today he spoke with outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron and pledged U.S. cooperation in the U.K.'s orderly exit from the EU.

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OBAMA: While the U.K.'s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between our two nations. That will endure.

HORSLEY: Obama says as a NATO member, the U.K. will also remain a key security ally for the U.S. Nevertheless, yesterday's vote is a rebuke for the kind of close international cooperation both Obama and his would be Democratic successor Hillary Clinton have championed. A Clinton campaign adviser ridiculed Trump's reaction to the U.K. vote today. Trump had suggested the sharp drop in Britain's currency would be good for business at his U.K. golf resorts. Jake Sullivan argues Clinton's approach is less mercenary, more presidential.

JAKE SULLIVAN: She has proven time and again that she has the judgment, the temperament and the experience to make America stronger, even in the face of headwinds from abroad.

HORSLEY: And those headwinds are likely to continue as the U.K. and Europe proceed with what promises to be a messy divorce. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.