NORTH East Wales and West Cheshire woke up yesterday to the scarcely believable news that Republican candidate Donald Trump would be America’s 45th President.
The result came as a huge shock for many experts and pollsters who had predicted victory for his opponent, the Democratic nominee and former First Lady Hillary Clinton.
It was at about 7.30am yesterday that Trump passed the 270 electoral college votes he needed to secure the presidency, despite a campaign that has been mired in controversy and accusations of racist and sexual behaviour.
Just a few hours later the reaction from shoppers and traders searching for bargains at Mold’s popular street market was one of shock and surprise.
“I think it’s a potential disaster for America and the world,” said Kel Griffiths, 51.
“It will encourage Russia and I worry that the US will now become more isolationist.
“Minorities and poor people should be very scared.”
Caroline Johnson, who works at The Bookshop on Mold High Street, said she was worried about Trump’s lack of political experience.
“You would hope that he is just a figurehead and that the people behind him are proper politicians,” she added.
“I’m very worried that he hasn’t had any experience,” agreed Ian McKay, who works in men’s outfitters Vaughan Davies.
“He’s purely a businessman with a background in real estate.”
Other shoppers voiced their frustration at a political system which exposed the widespread anti-establishment feeling among American voters.
“They were both as bad as each other as far as I’m concerned,” said Alan Nicholls, of Mold.
“I don’t know why they couldn’t find two candidates without any scandal attached to them.
“I was looking at friends on Facebook who live in America and thinking ‘how can you vote for either of these people’?”
Politicians from across the region were quick to react to Trump’s victory with many struggling to hide their disappointment.
Susan Elan-Jones, MP for Clwyd South, said: “He would not have been my preferred candidate, but I think it’s the job of international leaders to work with whoever the other countries elect. I think that’s what the British Government has to do.
“At the end of the day, we have to work with whoever the American people have elected, but on a personal level I think it’s a shame that constitutional rules say that Barack Obama could not serve a third term. I think that’s a pity.”
Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham, said: “I am extremely disappointed. This is a time for cool heads – let’s wait and see how his government unfolds.
“I think there are big lessons to be learnt by politicians everywhere from this election.”
Wrexham Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths described Trump as “a political outsider” who needed to work on uniting America following the bitter campaign.
She said: “I had hoped to see Hillary Clinton break the glass ceiling and celebrate becoming the first female President of the United States, so I am naturally disappointed.
“While I strongly disagree with many of Donald Trump’s views and misdemeanours, he managed to position himself as the political outsider with a strong, simple message which clearly appealed to many American voters.
“What was quite probably the bitterest presidential campaign in living memory has resulted in a divided nation which Trump will now have to start to unite.”
“From a Welsh perspective, the US remains an important trading partner and the First Minister has highlighted how the Welsh Government will maintain a strong presence in America.”
Other local political figures reacted on Twitter with Delyn MP David Hanson writing: “Private health insurance share price rises as markets expect #Trump to abolish Obama care – politics matters – depressing isn’t it ?” while Delyn AM Hannah Blythyn, who campaigned for Mrs Clinton, tweeted: “I am actually fearful for the future”.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood also expressed her disappointment and drew a clear parallel between the US election and this year’s Brexit vote.
She said: “Following Mr Trump’s victory, now is the time for calm heads and winding down the rhetoric we have witnessed during the election.
“If Trump wants to do business with the rest of the world, he must row back on the appalling comments we saw throughout the campaign.
“There is now a clear trend in Western democracies of anti-establishment rhetoric being falsely utilised by the wealthy and powerful as a route to power.
“Many people have been genuinely left behind or estranged by the economy and by politics. In both the United States and Wales, some of the areas which voted most strongly for Trump or for Brexit are those which lack the most opportunities.
“The temptation now is for centre-left, socialist or progressive parties to write those people off. But we must not do so.
“While our values of anti-racism and anti-sexism are not up for negotiation, we must still reach out to those people who are now attracted to right-wing populist parties or causes, because on issues like inequality of wealth, there is a clear case to answer.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described Trump’s campaign as “nasty and divisive” while Scottish Nationalist Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped “the president-elect will take the opportunity to reach out to those who felt marginalised by his campaign”.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the values of “moderation, freedom, respect for the rule of law, openness and concern for one another” had been defeated, while Green Party joint leader Caroline Lucas said it was “a devastating day.”
Their comments came after Prime Minister Theresa May congratulated Trump on his victory despite previously criticising the 70-year-old for some of his views.
In a statement issued by Downing Street, Mrs May said: “I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on being elected the next president of the United States, following a hard-fought campaign.
“Britain and the United States have an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise.
“We are, and will remain, strong and close partners on trade, security and defence.
“I look forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump, building on these ties to ensure the security and prosperity of our nations in the years ahead.”
See full story in the Chester Leader