Britain's vote to leave the European Union stirred a sense that populism now rules one of America's key allies. But that doesn't mean the United Kingdom prefers Donald Trump in the White House over Hillary Clinton.
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, won over many GOP voters with his own brand of populism, bashing the political class that he says is embodied by Clinton and others, Democrat and Republican alike. His promises to crack down on immigration and seize power from distant bureaucrats and entrenched politicians echo some of the pledges of Brexit supporters.
Despite the populist parallels, however, most Britons support Clinton over Trump, experts told CNBC. A lack of clarity on what exactly Trump would do if elected "unsettles" many people in Britain, said Scott Lucas, a professor of American studies at the University of Birmingham.
"I think in general most people in the U.K. would feel much more comfortable with Hillary, because she's a known factor. Even if you disagree with her, you know pretty much where she's going to come from," he said.
The U.K. has been preoccupied by its own political uncertainty since its anti-EU referendum last month. The leadership of all of its major political parties have come into question since the Brexit vote, and a new prime minister, Conservative Theresa May, is taking office Wednesday. Officials still have to decide when and how Britain will break from the European political and economic bloc.
British people generally followed the U.S. election more closely before the Brexit vote approached, said Angelia Wilson, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester. The length of the U.S. election cycle — Clinton launched her campaign in April 2015, and Trump started his bid in June 2015 — and huge spending by campaigns and outside groups leaves people in the U.K. "blown away," she added.
As the November election nears, Britain may start to pay closer attention. When it does, it may start to be "frightened" by Trump rather than seeing him as a "court jester," Wilson said.
Even after the Brexit vote, the U.K. population generally sees Clinton as a more stable choice to lead one of its closest allies. That also applies to elected officials, said Michael Cullinane, a professor of U.S. history at Northumbria University.
"The political class in Britain see Hillary Clinton as a safer set of hands than they would see Donald Trump," he said, though he added that pockets of the U.K. political establishment may not support Clinton, either.
Trump's rhetoric and unpredictability have rubbed some British elected officials the wrong way. His proposal last year to temporarily bar Muslims from the United States drew a rebuke from Sadiq Khan, London's recently elected Muslim mayor.
"I want Donald Trump to come to London so I can introduce myself to him as a mainstream Muslim, very, very comfortable with Western liberal values, but also introduce him to hundreds of thousands, dare I say millions of Muslims in this country, who love being British, love being Western," Khan told NBC News in May.
Boris Johnson, the former London mayor and a leading Brexit supporter, also distanced himself from Trump over his proposed Muslim ban. He told CNBC he was "very, very disappointed" to hear Trump's comments.
"I thought that was an extraordinary thing for a candidate for the office of president of the United States to say. Basically because America as I understand it is a country built on the ideal of welcoming people irrespective of their race, religion, color or creed or whatever. And I think that's a fine thing about America," Johnson said.
Trump seemed tone-deaf in cheering the Brexit vote in Scotland last month at his luxury golf course, experts added. Trump praised British voters for "(taking) back their country," though Scotland firmly voted to remain in the EU. Trump faced protests when he touched down in the country.
Experts outlined multiple factors that could lend Clinton authority within Britain. Among them, they said her husband and former President Bill Clinton is still perceived well there.
However, the University of Birmingham's Lucas added that because Bill Clinton is well liked, the British people may find Hillary Clinton "cold" in comparison.
Cullinane of Northumbria University noted that British citizens — including Conservatives — widely support the U.K.'s taxpayer-funded National Health Service. Clinton has pledged to sustain President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, which could lend her some weight within the U.K.