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The Trump Card: The UK-US Special Relationship

Chris Holbrook Find Out Now Market Research

Chris Holbrook

25th Aug, 2023 | 8 mins read

Trump is one of the most controversial figures in American history. His latest set of political and legal troubles, namely multiple indictments including one in Georgia last week, only added fuel to the bonfire of a divisive debate.

Looking ahead to the US presidential election in 2024 where Trump is the favoured Republican nominee, we polled a nationally representative sample of 2,019 UK adults on how they viewed the relationship with the United States, followed by what impact a second Trump presidency would have on their views.

How valuable do you think the UK’s relationship with the USA is?

 Very valuableSomewhat valuableA little bit valuableNot at all valuableI don’t know
Overall  27.1%32.1%12.6%6.7%21.4%
GenderVery valuableSomewhat valuableA little bit valuableNot at all valuableI don’t know
Female 21.5%30.9%12.%6.4%29.1%
Very valuableSomewhat valuableA little bit valuableNot at all valuableI don’t know

Do you think the relationship would change if Donald Trump were elected President in the 2024 Election?

YesNoI don’t know

Respondents who answered “Yes” were then asked:

Would the relationship improve or worsen?

 Improve a lotImprove a bitWorsen a bitWorsen a lot
Overall 9.3%7.5%27.1%56%
GenderImprove a lotImprove a bitWorsen a bitWorsen a lot
Female 5.2%5%24.8%64.9%
2019 voteImprove a lotImprove a bitWorsen a bitWorsen a lot

Can you explain why you think the relationship would improve/worsen?

We also asked respondents why they thought the relationship would improve or worsen. See analysis for synopsis of respondents’ answers.  

Key Points

  • Majority of the panel think that the relationship with the USA is at least ‘somewhat’ valuable.
  • Gender and the 2019 vote are important factors in respondents’ answers. Men and Conservative voters are more likely to say the US relationship is “very valuable”. 
  • Out of those who said Trump would change the UK-US relationship, the majority (83%) said that it would worsen to some degree. 


The ‘Special Relationship’

Labour voters are pro-USA, with 57.6% saying the relationship is at least somewhat valuable. However, Conservatives are far more so, with 75% holding the same view. It is difficult to explain exactly why those who voted Conservative in 2019 are more pro-US than their Labour counterparts. Some potential explanations include;

  • Traditional emphasis on defence by the Conservative Party, which is an integral part of Britain’s alliance with the USA. 
  • Small-c conservatism, projecting the traditional alliance between two English-speaking countries is important culturally to conservatives.
  • Labour’s traditional scepticism of ‘unfettered’ capitalism, which America has embraced.

Trump’s impact – synopsis of respondents’ explanations

Those who told us if the relationship would improve or worsen were then asked to provide an explanation for their answer. Here is a brief synopsis of what our respondents told us. 

Respondents foreseeing a worsening relationship under Trump highlight they feel his characterises make him unsuited for the office of president; making particular reference to intelligence, judgement, and trustworthiness. Another common theme is that a Trump presidency would create a gap in “values” which go against perceived UK values. Some respondents went as far to say that Trump was a potential threat to global democracy. 

Those who said they thought that the relationship would improve cited Biden’s pro-Irish stance as being detrimental to UK interests. They also highlighted Trump’s investments in the UK, including golf courses in Scotland. This suggests that, although they may believe that he is acting in his own self-interest, this would still benefit the UK. 

Trump’s impact – Party

While they are still a minority, more Tory voters from 2019 said that a Trump presidency would see an improvement in the US-UK relationship (30.2%) compared with their Labour counterparts (4.9%). The increasing use of ‘culture war’ issues in Britain draws on a parallel between right-wing politics in the USA and UK, which would have a smaller gap in “values” that those who thought the relationship would worsen cited. 

Trump’s impact – Gender

The difference between men and women’s views was not overwhelming, but it was certainly noteworthy. With only 10.2% of women saying that will be some level of improvement compared with 23.3% of men. This is likely due to accusations of misogyny which Trump said to perpetrate, including being found to have committed sexual abuse in a libel case in New York

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Photo by Ben Mater on Unsplash