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Make no mistake - Donald Trump's victory represents a racist "whitelash"

In Britain and the US, politicians are succeeding not despite of racism but because of it. 

"We’ve talked about income, we’ve talked about class, we’ve talked about region, we haven’t talked about race…This was a whitelash. This was a whitelash against a changing country”. These were the salient words of political commentator Van Jones last night as it became clear that Donald Trump was set to become the 45th President of the United States. Racism, and its bedfellow, sexism, have played a large part in bringing Trump to power. To ignore this is to legitimise discrimination. Trump ran on a racist, misogynistic platform, and he won.

Trump’s overt racism is not the only reason for his triumph, but it is a central one. Despite having run on anti-migrant, anti-Muslim and anti-women platform, his victory is already being chalked up to working-class economic disenfranchisement. This doesn’t make sense on two counts. Firstly it ignores working-class people of colour, who largely rejected Trump. Economic anxiety is not the exclusive redoubt of the white working class - African Americans and Hispanic Americans experience the highest rates of poverty in the US. Secondly, this narrative entirely ignores the middle-class white Americans who seem to have turned out in support of Trump.

The President-Elect’s support base includes white nationalists who think African Americans are "criminal," "unintelligent," "lazy" and "violent" and who sat by while the KKK endorsed their candidate. To ignore racism as a motivation for many people voting for Trump is to overlook, for example, his calls to ban Muslims from entering the country, to deport 11 million migrants and build a wall between Mexico and the US. The underlying theme behind these policies: forcing people of colour out of America.

The election of a billionaire businessman is, in part, about protecting a racial order in which whiteness reigns supreme. The people who are celebrating Trump’s victory tells you a lot of what you need to know: Ukip’s Nigel Farage, who is on his way to the US to congratulate Trump; the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, who proclaimed that the American people are now “free”, and Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, who congratulated the American people for taking back their country. In the US as in the UK, racist views are regularly explained away as “legitimate concerns” about the economy or over the erosion of an imagined national culture.

The decisive victory of a racist misogynist in the US Presidential race should prompt a reconsideration of the narrative that has led us to this point. There will be a temptation to further legitimise Trump’s white nationalist narrative by turning a blind eye to the structural racism and misogyny that swept him to victory. There will be a rush to defend Trump’s supporters as neither racist nor sexist – the comparatively small number of minority voters who backed Trump will be held up as an example of why this can’t simply be boiled down to race. But this will obscure what is hidden in plain sight: racism has played a significant part in this election. 

In the coming days, weeks and months, we need considered analysis about the construction of whiteness and politicians’ arguments that white identity under attack from supposedly inferior and threatening minorities. This matters because rhetoric has real life consequences. As we’ve seen in Brexit Britain, when people of colour and migrants have found themselves demonised as the enemy, and nationalists also declare they are reclaiming their country, violence and hate crimes becomes more possible. 

The situation in the US is by no means an exact mirror of what happened when the UK embraced Brexit. But in the initial aftermath of the presidential announcement one similarity is clear - politicians weren’t successful in spite of their racism. They were successful because of it.

Maya Goodfellow researches race and racism in Britain. She is a staff writer at LabourList.

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Will the Brexit Cabinet talks end in a “three baskets” approach?

The joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. 

It's decision day in the Brexit talks. Again.

The Brexit inner Cabinet will meet to hammer out not its final position, but the shape of its negotiating position. The expected result: an agreement on an end state in which the United Kingdom agrees it will follow EU regulations as it were still a member, for example on aviation; will agree to follow EU objectives but go about them in its own way, for example on recycling, where the British government wants to do more on plastic and less on glass; and finally, in some areas, it will go its way completely, for instance on financial services. Or as it has come to be known in Whitehall, the "three baskets" approach.

For all the lengthy run-up, this bit isn't expected to be difficult: the joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. There are two difficulties: the first is that the EU27 won't play ball, and the second is that MPs will kick off when it emerges that their preferred basket is essentially empty.

The objections of the EU27 are perhaps somewhat overwritten. The demands of keeping the Irish border open, maintaining Europol and EU-wide defence operations means that in a large number of areas, a very close regulatory and political relationship is in everyone's interests. But everyone knows that in order for the Conservative government to actually sign the thing, there is going to have to be some divergence somewhere.

The bigger problem is what happens here at home when it turns out that the third basket - that is to say, full regulatory autonomy - is confined to fishing and the "industries of the future". The European Research Group may have a few more letters left to send yet.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.