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Strathclyde Business School

Brexit and Trump: a Strathclyde Business Network event

By Zora Krisman - Posted on 24 November 2016

The student-led Strathclyde Business Network organised an event to discuss the recent political votes in the UK and US and their consequent fall-out. Student Zora Krisman highlights some of the key points made.

The UK electorate’s decision to vote ‘Brexit’ and the more recent US Election result which saw Donald Trump voted President were decisions which upset what most people thought would happen.

Since then there has been hot debate that the unexpected result of both votes might be a good thing – or indeed a bad thing! – with endless discussion in both mainstream and social media.

We are sure that the audience came prepared with deep interest in the Brexit and US Election session organised by Strathclyde Business Network on Tuesday, 15 November. We invited two experts in their fields for an insightful event which took the form of a one-hour Q&A session.

The first speaker, Tom Scotto, is a professor in Government and Politics who specialises in public opinion and voting behaviour at the University of Strathclyde, and the second speaker, Dr Graeme Roy, is a Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, Strathclyde Business School, who has worked for the Scottish Government as an Economic Advisor.

Professor Scotto highlighted a good point about the similarity of three recent voting events – the UK 2015 National Elections, Brexit and the US Elections 2016 - which was that all of the results were seemingly unexpected.

The media played a massive role in shaping public opinion, but instead of being persuasive, the majority of voters went against what was ‘expected' of them. Most of us expected a victory on Hillary Clinton’s side in the US presidential election, but reality hit hard when Trump won. Voters picked Trump instead because they felt a sense of belonging to the party supporting him.  Additionally, if we look at the polls since 2013, Clinton had been losing momentum after each debate, pulling the public closer to the Republican. At the same time, the voting rates for 2016 US Election were the lowest since 1996. This leads to the speculation that a lot of people prefer to hang back and watch, rather than having their voices heard, which may have been a result of both candidates’ unpopularity – as the professor remarked.

Dr Graeme Roy mentioned a shorter-term outlook for Trump’s presidency on the economy: cutting tax, short-term growth, possible inflation, US fiscal deficit. For the long-term period he cited other issues: economic inequality, trade, immigration, foreign policy (commodity, oil prices, etc.), and climate change (US decision on economic condition/implications).

Regarding Brexit, Dr Roy said there was a lot of uncertainty and volatility surrounding it, which will have a significant impact on the business industry, particularly the ability of small companies to cope with the changes. It is important for them to continue focusing on their long-term vision, but also to create flexibility for the post-Brexit period, for which preparation has generally been severely lacking. One opportunity for these enterprises to grow would be to target a larger market in the home country or find opportunities beyond the EU in other markets, such as China and South America.

Ultimately, both Brexit and the US Elections have caused short-term uncertainty on the economic, environment and long-term challenges for various industries to consider within both internal and external business environments.

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