The other day Nadhim Zahawi, the Iraq-born Tory MP for Stratford-Upon-Avon, tweeted about his sadness surrounding the Trump Ban and how it would (we assumed at the time) personally affect him. I retweeted Nadhim and was surprised at how many people came back with something along the lines of “That’s what you get for supporting Brexit”, directed at the Conservative. A lot of people – and growing – think of the vote to leave the EU and the election of Trump as being all but synonymous. It makes sense in some respects: the two votes happened reasonably close to one another; Trump was vocally supportive of Brexit; a lot of the reasons why the Leave vote occurred seem to tally up with reasons why people voted for Trump, namely numerous former left-leaning voters deciding to go along with the populist right on a journey.
I don’t think things are as simple as all of that myself. The two votes happened in two very different countries for a start. But it feels like for a large group of people in Britain, the two events are becoming inextricably linked.
It would be easy on the surface to say that this is first and foremost a problem for Theresa May. She has to try and make friends with Trump in the face of his ridiculous actions making him more and more likely to become more and more unpopular in the UK. But long term, I think the Tories have far less to fear than Labour from all of this. For a start, typical Tory voters are the ones most likely to do well or at least be okay post-Brexit; it is working-class and lower-middle-class voters, particularly outside of London and Scotland, that will probably be the most negatively affected. As for the Trump connection directly, most Tory voters will forgive May for whatever happens with Trump; to these people, the special relationship is paramount, even when the president of the United States at the time is unfortunately a hideous buffoon. But Labour voters – and potential Labour voters – are easily the ones most likely to despise Trump.
Putting all of this together, Labour are walking into the following narrative: the party pushed the Article 50 bill through parliament without a fight, allowing the Tories to negotiate a post-Brexit settlement that was good for the wealthy, bad for everyone else. Furthermore, it allowed the Tories to pursue a trade deal with Trump that negatively impacted the same communities done over by Brexit, and along with this actively encouraged Trump to do all of the other bad things he is likely to do to the world at the same time.
Labour are so obsessed at present with wanting to seem Brexity enough to voters who they don’t realise won’t vote for them anymore regardless, that they can’t see how they are allowing themselves to be squeezed into a really, really, really bad political space. One, I should add, there will probably be no coming back from.