Did Brexit Foreshadow Trump Win? UK & Euro Industry React To Election Result

On June 24 this year, Donald Trump landed in Scotland to mark the opening of his Trump Turnberry golf resort. The date was significant as 51.9% of Britons had just voted to leave the European Union in what is known as Brexit. At the time, Trump hailed the move as a moment in which Brits “took their country back.” He added, “Just like we will take America back.” Today, many Americans will have woken to a feeling similar to that felt by the 48.1% of Britons who voted to remain in the EU.

Many of the industry executives Deadline spoke to on the day of that historic June vote suggested it foreshadowed a Trump victory in the U.S. presidential election. Trump himself recently likened his possible victory to Brexit, saying his win would be like a “Brexit-plus-plus-plus” and nicknamed himself “Mr Brexit” earlier this year. Now, he’s President-elect.

The Brexit political earthquake launched shock waves throughout the UK in June which continue to reverberate and have consequences. In media industry terms, the plummet of the pound has affected box office returns for the Hollywood studios, yet been economical for those with tentpoles and TV shows shooting in Britain. Foreign relations, however, have become fraught, particularly within Europe whose major powers do not wish to extend special single-market privileges to a UK that has voted out.

So how does the industry feel today after Trump’s win?

“It is definitely Brexit again,” said one London-based film executive today. “The disenfranchised, the people left out, those are the ones reacting.” Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun today deemed the result “Brexit for America.”

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning program in the UK, controversial host Piers Morgan indicated that Brexit indeed foreshadowed a Trump win.

“I interviewed (Trump) in late May and he believed that it would be very much like the Brexit campaign in Britain,” said Morgan. “He believed there’d be millions of Americans who simply weren’t showing up to the polls who were going to be energized by his campaign. And he was right. Brits can get all high and mighty about it as many did over Brexit, but in the end the people have spoken. The majority has got to be respected.”

He added, “In a way the Brexit victory is very similar to Trump. I voted for Remain, so I was on the other side, but I didn’t like the way that anyone who attached themselves to the Brexit campaign was immediately dismissed as stupid, ignorant, sexist, racist, whatever… and exactly the same here with Trump.”

During its blanket coverage of the election results this morning, the BBC’s Andrew Neil noted the U.S. result is potentially worse than Brexit. “Even in Brexit, some polls suggested it would happen. But in this election, polls overwhelmingly said Clinton would win,” he reminded.

A UK film exec today paraphrased a line coined earlier in the election cycle by The Atlantic, telling Deadline, “The press took (Trump) literally, but not seriously; his supporters took him seriously, but not literally.”

Meanwhile, right-leaning UK paper The Telegraph’s deputy editor Steven Swinford said that Trump’s dramatic victory could offer a glimmer of hope for a post-Brexit trade deal, noting that Trump had said the UK would be “treated fantastically” after Brexit, a stark contrast to outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama’s view.

A London-based exec admitted it was “a concern” that the entertainment industry was so out-of-touch with the majority of the U.S. and UK voting population. “After Brexit, it shows that people aren’t happy with things and want change but let’s hope it’s for the better and not the worst… As the politics of the world move towards the right, away from the tendencies of the creative and filmmaking communities, it’s important that we still strive to make work that can inspire people to think and to challenge these conventions.”

Many UK industry insiders preferred to sidestep the issue in terms of its effect on the industry and how the election would affect Hollywood studios outside the U.S., but one did say they didn’t expect there to be much impact, “People probably will want to go to the movies more than ever now.”

Danny Cohen, the former BBC Director of Television who is now President of Access Entertainment — recently set up to invest several hundred million dollars in the entertainment sector — was vocal on Twitter, however:

He also added a word about France which is holding its own contentious presidential election to be decided next year. Speaking of the far-right National Front party, whose Marine Le Pen warmly congratulated Trump this morning, Cohen wrote:

Speaking generally about today’s result, Frenchman and Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval told Deadline, “It’s first and foremost a moral disaster. But it’s the ineluctable consequence of a world that runs on two speeds in which our media industry has an enormous responsibility. It no longer tells the world how it is, but the world in which it lives and as such has lost the power to make people dream and to educate.”

An Italian executive added, “Everyone is just shocked in Italy. The reaction is awful.” A recurring comment there is that former PM and fellow Silvio Berlusconi “is a hell of a lot better compared to Trump.”

Some in the UK government disagree. Pro-Brexit campaigner, erstwhile London Mayor and David Letterman guest Boris Johnson — who is now the UK’s Foreign secretary — had this to say:

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