One week: two worlds – Brexit and the US election

It's been a surprisingly quiet week in Brexit negotiations, given that the end of the withdrawal period is now less than two months away.
That this is probably a good sign was confirmed by Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney on Tuesday, when he suggested that some form of long term agreement is now likely. The outstanding question is whether that will include a trade agreement. Even if it does, it is not likely to be an ambitious one.
This week's US election is arguably the biggest unknown factor. The FT reports that Boris Johnson is concerned about British diplomatic isolation in the event of a Biden victory, particularly after antagonizing the Democrats over Ireland. Part of this might simply reflect a decision by the Biden campaign to close down diplomatic contacts generally. Some commentators claim Johnson is closer to Biden on issues such as climate change and (oddly enough, given Brexit) multilateralism. Nevertheless, Johnson's populist style may look distinctly passé if Biden is elected.
Yet a Trump victory is still a real possibility. While the national polls favour Biden, some of the key states are much closer, and the polls wouldn't need to understate Trump by much for an upset to happen.
UK-based pundits are notorious for their willingness to pontificate on US elections, and I'm not about to defy the stereotype. For my money, the 'Blue wall' swing states that Trump took from Hilary Clinton in 2016, like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, and perennial swing states like Ohio and Florida, are more likely to be decisive than Democratic stretch goals like Georgia and Texas.
That said, if Biden has a good night, the latter states may be important in the down-ballot race for control of Congress. (Although it's a conservative site, I tend to use RealClearPolitics to follow US elections because of the usefullness of its maps. Alternative suggestions are welcome!)
By this time next week, the world could be facing one of two very different political outcomes. If there is lingering uncertainty, that may favour Trump given conservative dominance of the Supreme Court.
Yet for Brexit, the possibilities are narrowing. Biden makes a trade deal more likely, Trump a deal without a trade element. But any trade deal will not be far-reaching, and the prospect of an unmanaged no deal breakdown seems to be receding.



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