Hello Mr President…
Here’s what to expect if Donald Trump is announced the 45th President of the United States (if Clinton wins, cheer and ignore this)
Trump has gone from being treated like a joke – the orange-skinned businessman-turned-reality-TV-star with the crazy ideas – to scaring both the Democrat and Republican establishments witless, because nothing they did was capable of stopping him. He’s proven you can come from nowhere, with no political experience and ideas that would once have seemed wildly extreme, to run rings around experienced rivals. Of course, he won’t be the first former screen-star to have a say in running the nation (with predecessors in Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California and former film star Ronald Reagan as president). But now President Trump is in power, the shockwaves will be felt worldwide, as everyone wonders where the next uprising against the establishment might be brewing. Here’s what to expect from the man nobody saw coming.
Impact on the UK
He talks a tough game on ISIS, offering to “just bomb those suckers… there would be nothing left” and to bring back waterboarding (which became illegal with the adoption of the third Geneva Convention of 1929) for terror suspects.
But if anything, America under Trump will probably go to war less often, since he says he’s against regime change – which means no more invasions to topple a government, like in Iraq or Libya – and would seek to ‘get along’ with his friend, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. That might sound peaceable, but the fear is that he won’t defend countries along the Russian border (like Ukraine) from invasion and that ultimately countries like Britain would need to spend more on defence, because we couldn’t always expect the US army to ride to our rescue. In terms of Brexit, Trump famously hailed Britain’s decision to leave the EU as a “great victory”, arguing that it was a response to the world’s immigration crisis.
Trump’s big offer to women is to give them more choice over whether they work or not after having children. His daughter Ivanka, a mother of three, helped devise his plan to let parents earning less than $250,000 (£206,000) offset the cost of childcare against their tax bills – potentially saving hundreds of dollars a year.
But what sets this apart from the many other countries offering help with nursery bills is that stay-at-home parents could claim the equivalent amount for looking after their kids themselves. “I’m hearing wow,” Trump announced, unveiling the plan at a rally. If it happens, expect a big campaign back in the UK for a better deal for stay-at-home parents.
Women’s right to choose
Trump used to be pro-choice, but now says he’s changed his mind and opposes abortion. He argued on the campaign trail that women who have terminations should be “punished” and has indicated he will seek to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark decision legalising abortion in America – so laws on abortion would be decided by individual states. Expect pro-life supporters here to be seriously emboldened from here on in.
Trump says he will “make America great again” and create 25 million jobs by slashing taxes, scrapping regulations on business (like measures to combat climate change) and getting tough with China. He’s gambling on this triggering speedy economic growth to fund expensive promises like his childcare plans. But if it doesn’t work (bearing in mind his tax plans were dubbed “pie in the sky nonsense” by William G Gale, co-director of US thinktank the Tax Policy Center) his government will have to borrow heavily, and his plans could unravel fast. History suggests that’s bad news for major trading partners, including Britain.
Famously, Trump promised to build a concrete wall 50ft high between the US and Mexico – at Mexico’s expense – to keep out immigrants he controversially described as “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He has also threatened to temporarily ban Muslims entering – although after warnings it would be unworkable, he promised instead to suspend immigration from politically volatile countries and introduce ‘extreme vetting’ for Muslims – and to deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
It goes without saying, this would be difficult in practice. Experts say deportations could cost up to £329billion, while some immigrants can’t be sent home as their countries of origin won’t take them. Mexico’s president is refusing to fund the wall and Trump will struggle to get a billion-pound project full of practical snags through Congress (Congress has powers to authorise budgets or decisions to go to war, but can also make a President stand trial for serious crimes like corruption or treason).
The fact that he’s been elected on these promises, even if they don’t actually happen, will boost anti-immigration parties globally from France’s neo-fascist Front National to our UKIP.
Who else do we get?
With senior Republicans saying that they wouldn’t vote for him after the sexual assault allegations, Trump may have to look harder than usual to fill his cabinet. But expect rewards for Ben Carson, a former presidential contender, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani after they stuck by him. And Kellyanne Conway, the mother of four drafted in to manage his campaign and help win over women, could expect a big job behind the scenes. He’s also hinted at a job for Hope Hicks, the 27-year-old who had no experience of politics before she became his press secretary.
The special relationship: Trump and May
While Trump may have bonded with one British politician, the bad news for Downing Street is it’s UKIP’s Nigel Farage, who flew out to speak at a Trump rally this summer (though he did backtrack on his support after the groping allegations).
Trump’s relations with the Tories, meanwhile, are pretty frosty. Back when it looked as if he didn’t really stand a chance of winning, David Cameron famously called his threat to stop Muslims entering the US “divisive, stupid and wrong” – while the current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson once snapped that “the only reason I wouldn’t visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump”. Ahem.
But while it’s hard to imagine the morally upright vicar’s daughter Theresa May having natural chemistry with chauvinistic Trump, she’s pragmatic enough to look for ways of making it work. That’s why her ministers were told over the summer to stop expressing opinions on the presidential race.
And if nothing else, he’s a fan of Brexit. Perhaps he can give us some pointers on how exactly to make it work?