Arkansas’ congressional delegation expressed support for Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, or at least expressed support for Great Britain.
In an interview, Rep. Rick Crawford, who represents Arkansas’ 1st District, said, “I think that it’s the right thing for them to do, and while there may be some short-term economic ramifications, I think in the long term, Great Britain is going to be fine, and the British people are going to be fine.”
He said the so-called “Brexit” is “possibly a harbinger of what’s to come,” where other countries leave the EU because of their frustrations with propping up weaker economies.
“I think that’s the bigger issue is that the British people want to be British,” he said.
Crawford lived in Great Britain from about ages 9-13 while his father was in the Air Force and said he feels a great affection for that country.
Sen. Tom Cotton also offered strong support for Britain’s decision, saying, “The British people exercised their sovereign right of self-government, decisively choosing to leave the European Union. We respect their decision and celebrate their democracy. Now is the time to preserve and strengthen our special relationship with the United Kingdom, which remains our closest NATO ally and a key member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. We should now begin negotiations on a free-trade agreement with the United Kingdom. I urge the Obama administration and EU leaders to move forward in the spirit of magnanimity and friendship with our British allies.”
Sen. John Boozman said through his office, “The British people, through the democratic process, have made their voices heard. The results of this vote will not change the special nature of our relationship with the United Kingdom, and the bond between our two nations will remain as strong as ever.”
Rep. French Hill, who represents Arkansas’ 2nd District, said in a statement, “I respect the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. If the people feel this is in the best long-term interest of their nation, then Americans should support their desire to maintain their sovereignty. Both the United Kingdom and the European Union are, and will remain, crucial partners of the United States.”
Rep. Steve Womack from the 3rd District said, “The United States and Great Britain share a deep friendship, and I support our crucial ally in this historic decision.”
Hendrix College political science professor Dr. Jay Barth said the election’s turnout patterns favored the “Leave” side: Young people and urban areas turned out less, and even the weather patterns were favorable. The election brought together both the left and the right on the Leave side: liberals because of austerity packages forced by the EU, conservatives over concerns about immigration.
“In an odd way, to put it in American parlance, it really would be kind of a Sanders meets Trump kind of unity that came together in Brexit,” he said.
Crawford agreed that the British election had echoes of this year’s U.S. presidential campaign, where Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders have been successful running anti-establishment campaigns.
“People are frustrated, and they’re tired of not being listened to, and so they want somebody that sort of reflects that, that level of frustration and that says the things that other folks have been careful not to say, or they avoided talking about or used very artful and politically crafted language to avoid mentioning. … A guy like Trump, he says all the things that your crazy uncle says, and people I think appreciate that.”
Cotton alluded to those parallels, saying, “Meanwhile, the result of this referendum should remind leaders in Washington, London, Brussels, and across Europe that our citizens are dissatisfied with stagnant economies, declining wages, uncontrolled migration, rising crime, and terror attacks at home.”
Barth said that while Trump is celebrating the win as reflecting his own future success, there’s not yet evidence that he will be able to reach out to both right-wing and left-wing populists, as the “Leave” side did. He said the United States has a much more diverse electorate than Britain’s largely white one. Another difference: This was a national election, while in the United States, the Electoral College makes a presidential campaign 50 separate elections.