Sometimes it can be easy to regard the ins and outs of American politics as arcane manoeuvrings with little real relevance to the UK. But, while the wranglings between The Senate and The House of Representatives do seem fairly irrelevant on a day-to-day level, every four years there is one event that should make us all sit up and take notice.

This November's election promises to be one of the most fascinating, and possibly most controversial, in American history. While Donald Trump will continue to underline how he really is helping to make America great again, there is a solid ground-swell of support for his Democrat opponent Joe Biden.

One only has to look at the American Election betting odds to see that the challenger is well out in front, at the end of August at least. Biden has been odds-on favourite for some time and Trump is at odds of 4/6 not to be re-elected. Yes, a great deal can change once the serious campaigning begins but the consensus is that many of the swing states like Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin may well be switching from blue to red come November.

"Donald Trump" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

The outlook for trade

It won't have escaped most people's attention that relatively soon after the results of the election are announced, the UK's Brexit transition period will also be coming to an end.

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As the chances of us exiting the EU with no trade deal in place seem to have become more likely, sealing a new one with the US is seeming increasingly important. Assuming Trump defies the odds and remains in the White House, all well and good. But a Biden victory is likely to throw everything into disarray.

Unless a deal, and ideally a Free Trade one, can be settled before November, this will mean negotiations will need to be carried out with a whole new team. Many of the appointments by Biden will not be immediate and there is a cut-off point of 30 June 2021 for Congress to fast-track a deal, with a requirement of 90 days' notice prior to this.

It's also far from certain whether Biden's first priority would be to strike a US/UK deal as his focus may well be on the larger markets of the east that Barack Obama had been so keen to court.

The special relationship

"English Language Grunge Flag" (CC BY 2.0) by Free Grunge Textures –

Then there's the question of the much-vaunted "special relationship" between the two countries. A number of diplomats have expressed concern that, if re-elected, Trump will be seeking to dilute this even more as part of his "America First" policy. But some are equally pessimistic about a Biden victory as they believe that he may have his aim firmly directed to working more closely with the EU.

So it all adds up to the fact that there is a considerable amount riding on the November result for the UK. Until we have a clearer picture of the way things will go, there's not a great deal that we can do about it.

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