Clinton voters and Remainers are too gracious in defeat - it's time to become bad losers

President-elect Donald TrumpReuters

Let's imagine for a moment that Hillary Clinton had lost the popular vote by two million, but won the electoral college. Then let's also imagine that in our own EU referendum, Remain had won, but with less than 52% of the vote.

We already know from their own mouths how Donald Trump and Nigel Farage would have reacted. Trump, with a move straight from the proto-fascist playbook, was clear in advance that he would only accept the result if he won. Anything else would have been 'rigged' by #CrookedHillary and he would have urged his supporters not to accept the outcome. Farage, in the days when he feared Leave was losing, was clear that a close 52-48 result would not settle the argument but require a re-run. Like Boris Johnson's £350m weekly injection for the NHS, this was forgotten as soon as the ballots were counted and 'Independence Day' had been declared.

Compare and contrast the manner in which, with a grace and dignity of which Trump shows himself ever more incapable, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton not only accepted defeat but made clear their determination to make a disappointing result work for America. Compare and contrast too the manner in which most of those defeated in the referendum have vowed to accept the outcome and try to make it work as best they can.

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Part of me thinks this is good and right and democratic. But another part of me yearns for the losers to show more fight. In the week when Andy Murray ends the year as World Number One tennis player I am reminded of John McEnroe's brilliant observation 'show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.' Frankly there is too much good losing going on, and a lot for the losers on both sides of the Atlantic to get bad about.

Trump lost the popular vote by a fair old margin yet now conducts himself as though he speaks not just for the whole of America but the whole of the world. He alone should decide how Broadway actors conduct themselves. He rather than foreign governments should decide who visiting Ambassadors should be. He, having threatened to lock up Hillary Clinton on account of careless use of communications, now speaks to world leaders on his easily overheard mobile. Having savaged Clinton for allegedly mixing political and private interests he now seemingly sees nothing wrong in urging the President of Argentina to help move along a Trump business project in Buenos Aires.

Meanwhile his chosen Ambassador for the UK, Farage, in this era of post truth politics, struts around the place insisting 17million people voted to leave the single market when even those he campaigned with were clear at the time it meant nothing of the sort.

Here is where the losers need to stop feeling they have to pander to the winners, and keep calling them out on their lies past and present. And both with Trump and with Brexit our Prime Minister needs to take a lead in shaping a more nuanced response.

Accepted, Trump has been elected leader of the most powerful country in the world and Mrs May must develop a relationship with him. But pandering to rudeness and narcissism does not constitute a foreign policy. She should study carefully the words with which German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted Trump's election. She cited shared values, not least to remind the Americans these were as much their values as hers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) welcomes US President Barack Obama as he arrives for a meeting of the US President with European leaders at the Chancellery in Berlin, GermanyJohn Macdougall/ AFP

May has looked by contrast somewhat desperate, briefing out of her phone call with Trump that he had confirmed his commitment to a 'special relationship' – so special that she was the 11th leader he called and the transcript subsequently revealed his 'invitation' to visit was little more than 'let me know if you're ever popping by.' Then came the notion, even before he is installed in the job, of a State visit to the UK with all that entails. God alone knows what Trump might tweet about the Queen and Prince Philip.

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Instead of saying 'there is no vacancy' as UK ambassador, May would garner more respect - not least from Trump, given bullies only understand the language of strength – if she politely suggested he get on with sorting out his own team and leave her to decide hers. And put talk of Windsor Castle on the back burner until he shows he understands that for all that he won as a change candidate, there is a purpose to diplomatic protocols and he would be wise to follow at least some of them.

There has been a lot of talk of Trump's Presidency being 'normalised' and of course the good losing of Obama and Clinton helped with that. But both the manner of his win and much of his conduct since have not been normal and there should be far greater resistance to the idea that they are.

President-elect Donald Trump, with Ukip's Nigel Farage, in front of gold doors to his luxury Trump Tower penthouse.Twitter/Nigel_Farage

In both Trump and Brexit, we have seen victories secured by myth now being followed by fantasy. The myths were helped by the lies they told. The fantasies are that everything is going to be alright. Trump will be like Reagan. But the evidence suggests he won't. Brexit will go fine. But the evidence suggests it won't.

In fantasyland not only do we have to accept defeat. We seemingly have to accept anything the victors say or do. We have to let Trump think he can say or do what the hell he likes. We have to believe that anyone who dares suggest there may be a downside to Brexit is deeply unpatriotic.

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Yet on Monday Mrs May herself raised the notion of the cliff edge. Several months in from the vote surely there should have been a clearer path laid out to this bright shiny new future we are all being asked to believe lies beyond the triggering of Article 50? For May to be talking of cliff edges suggests that our government is no clearer about where we are heading.

On Wednesday (23 November) Chancellor Philip Hammond presents the autumn statement. He will doubtless try to do his best with a weak hand. But reading between the lines coming out of various parts of Whitehall and Parliament, he is being asked by Number 10 and the Brexiteers to play the Fantasyland game and pretend things are better than they are.

I hope he stands up and says what he knows to be true. That the country has taken a massive risk and as yet we are unclear what the consequences may be. That the uncertainty we face is an inevitable part of the outcome for which the country voted. That it will take time before any of this becomes clear and in the meantime we need to start mapping out a strategy that helps us make the right decisions as we go.

It is evidence of just how mad the political world has become that if he were to make such a statement of the blindingly obvious he would probably be sacked for his troubles. And Donald Trump would tweet that Nigel Farage ought to take over.

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