TURNBERRY, Scotland – Timing is everything.
What sounded like an ill-fated trip to a foreign business enterprise turned into a perfect foreign policy photo op for Donald Trump.
He stood on the shimmering southwest Scottish coast, launched his refurbed Turnberry golf course, and praised the just announced results of the UK referendum on the the European Union.
“People want to take their country back,” Trump declared, “They want to have independence.”
It was a bit more complicated than that. But the question was that simple, yes or no, stay in the EU or leave. The Brits chose leave.
And everyone was shocked. The anchors and analysts on British TV began to see it coming a bit after midnight. Others woke up the next morning and were (in their words) “gob-smacked.”
All day the country reeled. The stock market sank. The Pound weakened. And Prime Minister Cameron took one for the team, announcing his resignation.
Up here in Scotland, the majority of folks voted to stay in the European Union. Their leader Nicola Sturgeon announced they’d have another independence vote. And this time Scotland might break free.
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June, 24, 2016: Anti-Trump protester in Turnberry, Scotland
At one point, as we trailed the Trump caravan, cameraman Mal James turned to me and said, this is the biggest European story since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
And he was right.
I was there to see the Fall of the Wall. It meant the end of the Soviet Union and the east bloc.
Two years after the Wall fell I moved to Europe. I’ve lived in and covered it for 25 years, first in Germany, then Paris, now London. And through all those years the momentum was always towards a closer and bigger Union.
The Maastricht Treaty, the Euro Common Currency, new and more member states (starting at six it is now numbers 28).
Then the troubles starting building as well. Economic crises, immigration chaos, cross-border terror.
Now some think the UK vote could mean the end of the EU.
Other countries look at what happened here and are starting to think about doing the same thing. Calls for new exit votes are coming from France and the Netherlands.
And the Eurocrats in Brussels and pro-EU leaders like German Chancellor Merkel are hurriedly saying they will “re-invigorate” the body.
As Washington watches with concern. With the UK as the key go-between for the US and the EU, President Obama personally called for Brits to stay in. They didn’t listen to him either.
As I waited on line at the highway rest-stop cash register, on our way from Turnberry to the next Trump Scotland stop, the whole day’s events was summed up.
“Don’t get me started,”the young-ish cashier told me when I asked her about the result, clearly upset.
The majority of young people voted to stayed in. They wanted to stay connected in an increasingly inter-related world
Then I turned around in line and noticed an old-ish man standing behind me with a scare-crow in his hand he was set to buy.
“What are you going to do with that?” I asked.
“I want to keep the pidgeons out of my garden,” he replied. “They’re a real problem.”
The majority of older people voting wanted to leave the European Union. They were worried about borders they say are out of control. And laws imposed not of their making.
What will happen next? No one on the radio we were listening to could come up with an answer. Will Britain become “Great” again? Or just shrink into “Little England.”
Time to contemplate that one shortly in Aberdeen, with a glass of Scotland’s finest. Neat. No ice.
Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.