June 1, 2016

Much media brouhaha has been made this morning about Donald Trump appearing to not know what "Brexit" is in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

I ask if he sees himself as having similarities with leaders of the growing anti-immigrant (some would say outright racist) European nativist movements, like Marine Le Pen in France and Matteo Salvini in Italy, whom The Wall Street Journal reported Trump had met with and endorsed in Philadelphia. ("Matteo, I wish you become the next Italian premier soon," Trump was quoted as saying.) In fact, he insists he didn't meet Salvini. "I didn't want to meet him." And, in sum, he doesn't particularly see similarities — or at least isn't interested in them — between those movements and the anti-immigrant nationalism he is promoting in this country.

"And Brexit? Your position?" I ask.




"The Brits leaving the EU," I prompt, realizing that his lack of familiarity with one of the most pressing issues in Europe is for him no concern nor liability at all.

"Oh yeah, I think they should leave."

But clearly from the interview above Donald Trump DOES know that Britain is having a referendum on leaving the European Union. He's inconsistent about admitting that he thinks they should leave, and he may not know the term "Brexit" or maybe he was distracted by something in the room -- it IS Hollywood, after all.

What is undeniable and consistent in Trump's reaction is that he thinks it's perfectly okay for Britain to make decisions based entirely on anti-immigrant sentiment. "All the things that are going on there -- ‘the craziness that’s going on with migration’, the ‘people pouring in all over the place’ is a valid reason to leave the EU. UK's Daily Mail reports

The billionaire tycoon turned politician said there was 'unrest' in the UK and insisted 'thousands and thousands' of Britons backed his controversial pledge to ban Muslims from the US.

Sure they do. He's counted, he can tell you.

The other certainty concerning Trump and Brexit is that he has given absolutely no thought to how this move would impact the United States and its economic interests abroad. Trump even hinting that Britain should leave, goes against not just the Obama administration, but six former US Treasury secretaries and most independent US economic analysts. CNN/Money:

Most independent forecasters say Brexit would deliver a shock to the U.K. economy, the fifth biggest in the world. Investors are already nervous, and the pound has fallen sharply this year.

American companies can operate anywhere in the EU as long as they establish a branch or subsidiary in one of its 28 member states.

London is the most convenient option for many firms, because of the language, huge talent pool, and easy access to the rest of Europe. The market is crucial for U.S. companies -- 30% of sales made by American companies and their affiliates in Europe are made in the U.K.

Maybe Trump should have a chat with his fellow 'billionaire businessmen' to see how they feel about having to move their European headquarters to a non-English speaking country in order to establish operations within the EU.

Too bad he's waiting until the day after the vote to go to Britain for a Scottish golf trip at one of his resorts. His rich friends might give him a clue how they feel about a mass exodus of US businesses from London, just because the vote went the way he said it should.

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