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How U.K.'s Vote To Leave The EU Affects Russia And The U.S.


And all this morning we are reporting on what is unquestionably an historic referendum result from the United Kingdom.


JENNY WATSON: The total number of votes cast in favor of leave was 17,410,742. This means that the U.K. has voted to leave the European Union.


GREENE: The U.K. leaving the EU. That was the voice of the chairwoman of the U.K. Electoral Commission announcing the votes this morning.


We're going to look now at the impact of the vote on two countries outside of the European Union - Russia and the United States. Let's begin here in the U.S., and with us in our studios this morning is David Rennie. He is the Washington Bureau Chief of The Economist. David, thanks for coming in.

DAVID RENNIE: Good morning.

MARTIN: President Obama actively spoke out against Brexit, against the very result that has now happened. Outline for us the short and long-term effects of this vote on the U.S. relationship with the U.K.

RENNIE: So the very short term, the last thing that this country wants or President Obama wants is economic turmoil in any country. But very quickly after that, Britain looks like a special case because Britain is often, in some years, the largest single source of foreign investment into the U.S. It has about a half a trillion dollars in investments in the U.S. The U.K. is also a gigantic source of investments from U.S. firms, millions of jobs at stake. And then in the longer term - and I think this is really what we'll see mattering more and more is - remember what Britain is to the United States. It's your best friend in Europe in terms of a certain vision of the West, a liberal, open-minded, outward-looking, free-trading vision of the West. And a narrow majority, but a clear majority of the British people have basically turned their back on that vision. They say they want to pull up the drawbridge and become more of an island nation. They're much less interested in being a global nation. And that's a disaster for a whole range of things for the U.S.

GREENE: David, stay with us if you can. I want to turn now to our colleague, NPR's Corey Flintoff in Moscow. Corey, I mean, Vladimir Putin has talked often about, you know, opposing NATO, not wanting a strong NATO, not wanting a strong West to oppose him. I mean, this has to be a result he likes if this is going to sort of breed division in Europe.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Yes, that's true, David, although he's not saying that yet. In fact, the Russian leadership hasn't made any official comments on this yet but some senior Russian politicians have been talking about it and they've been casting this as a defeat for Barack Obama and for the United States. One politician said, this separates Europe from the Anglo-Saxons - that is from the USA - and this means that we will have a united Eurasia with Russia in it in about 10 years.

GREENE: Interesting. You think about things like Ukraine and some of the conflicts, I mean, where the West - if it is a weakened force so to speak, I mean, Putin might feel like he could be strengthened.

FLINTOFF: Yes, I think that is exactly the case. And of course, this goes to the issue of sanctions too. Russian - top Kremlin officials haven't talked about this but the mayor of Moscow said today that, you know, without the U.K. in the EU, there won't be anyone upholding the sanctions so zealously as they have in the past. So that affects the situation in Ukraine and of course it's something that these people see as very positive for Russia.

MARTIN: Thanks so much, NPR's Corey Flintoff giving us the view from Moscow. We're going to return to David Rennie, he's the Washington Bureau Chief of The Economist. He's here in our studios this morning. And David, this morning we are getting reaction from the campaign of Donald Trump. He is calling the vote in the U.K. a historic victory. He is saying that come November the American people will have the chance to re-declare (ph) their independence as the U.K. has from the EU. People throughout this vote have drawn parallels between the debate happening over the U.K.'s membership in the EU and some of what has behind - been behind the rise of Donald Trump and his campaign. How have you seen these parallels?

RENNIE: Well, look, there's an obvious parallel which is that the referendum campaign became depressingly ugly and depressingly focused on immigration and the dangers of foreigners. But I think that in some ways that's letting both Donald Trump's campaign and the sort of Brexit camp off the hook. I think they were peddling something even more dangerous than anti-immigrant rage because we've seen that in lots of countries.

What's really shocking, I think, is the idea that facts don't matter. I think that the Brexit campaign had two or three big things they hammered again and again. One was the weekly cost of membership, which they just invented, they made it up. It was a number that didn't exist. And they also said Turkey about to join and send in 76 million Turks - just not true - so that was kind of post-truth politics. And the final thing I think is Donald Trump is pitching a message which is that co-operation is for dummies, that smart countries should be more selfish and think about themselves much more. And that was the Brexit message, too.

MARTIN: David Rennie of The Economist, thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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