November 10, 2016

The UK reacts to Donald Trump’s victory (Brexit? What Brexit?!)


Trump-WinOn 24th June millions of Brits woke to the news Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and Michael Gove had done their worst and coaxed an impressionable, disgruntled nation into voting to leave the European Union. ‘Brexit’ has been our disgrace ever since, lorded as an idiocy by so many of our foreign friends.

Now on 9th November we awoke to news all the more terrifying — Donald Trump will be president. It makes that little Brexit debacle seem less harmless after all…

So how has the presidential news been received across the ocean on this soon-to-be-ex-European island?

UK Prime Minister Theresa May (at least the US President was actually elected) has recently given a statement, printed in the Telegraph:

“I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on being elected the next President of the United States, following a hard-fought campaign.

“Britain and the United States have an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise.

“We are, and will remain, strong and close partners on trade, security and defence.”

Nothing if not diplomatic. Whereas Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon (remember, Scotland are the nation with a particular hatred for the ‘mangled apricot hellbeast’) gave a statement that had a bit more of a ring of truth about it:

“While this is not the outcome I hoped for, it is the verdict of the American people and we must respect it. I congratulate president-elect Trump on winning the election.

“It is normal in any election for those on the losing side to be feel disappointment, but today, many in America and across the world, will also feel a real sense of anxiety. I hope the president-elect will take the opportunity to reach out to those who felt marginalized by his campaign and make clear – in deeds as well as words – that he will be a president for everyone in modern, multicultural America.

“Today must also be a moment for those who share progressive values — all of us who believe in tolerance and diversity – to speak up loudly and clearly for the values we hold dear.”

And Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took things even further.

“Trump’s election is an unmistakable rejection of a political establishment and an economic system that simply isn’t working for most people. It is one that has delivered escalating inequality and stagnating or falling living standards for the majority, both in the US and Britain.”

So how has the British book trade reacted to the news? Brexit has already created uncertainly and turbulence over potential job losses, author earnings, pricing issues and legal challenges. Trump’s win only adds more fuel to the unstable fire.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, spoke to the Booksellers news team:

“I think it adds to the uncertainty we already face as a result of Brexit, so what was already a concern for booksellers is now an even bigger concern,” he said. “Anybody in retail who is not battening down the hatches and who is not concerned about the future is more optimistic than me. The reality is, just like Brexit, we will have to discover over the next two to three years what the real impact will be. I am dismayed by the result… One then has to be concerned about how the European elections may now go.”

And Lizzy Kremer, the vice president of the Association of Authors Agents, also an agent at David Higham, told the Bookseller:

“It’s my daughter’s 14th birthday today. I had to tell her that today America voted a fascist into power rather than a woman; that didn’t feel good. It’s obviously affecting the value of currency, it’s affecting the markets, it will affect business. It will affect everything.”

British and Scottish authors have also taken to Twitter in their droves sharing their disappointment and condolences.

Now more than ever, let’s remember the power and influence books have in bringing people together, crossing cultural boundaries, inspiring and revolutionizing.

The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston is out now from Melville House.



Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.