UK Brex­i­teers eye op­por­tu­nity in Trump win

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LON­DON: Don­ald Trump’s im­prob­a­ble elec­tion has buoyed euroscep­tics in Bri­tain, who hope Lon­don’s “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” with the world’s top econ­omy will re­sult in lu­cra­tive post-Brexit trade. US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama warned that Bri­tain would be at the “back of the queue” for trade deals if it left the bloc but Trump was pro-Brexit and will likely look more fa­vor­ably on its trans-At­lantic part­ner, say Brex­i­teers. The pres­i­dent-elect’s at­ti­tude to Bri­tain leav­ing the bloc was “more pos­i­tive than the hos­tile ap­proach” of Obama, noted prom­i­nent Conservative law­maker and ar­dent euroscep­tic Ja­cob Rees-Mogg.

Trump, whose mother was born in Bri­tain, hailed the vote to leave the Euro­pean Union as “a fan­tas­tic thing” and pledged that Bri­tain would “cer­tainly not be at the back of the queue” un­der his pres­i­dency. Fel­low Conservative Bernard Jenkin told the City AM fi­nan­cial news­pa­per: “Pres­i­dent Trump might not be to our taste but we must cal­cu­late our na­tional in­ter­est. “He will not put logs on the track in front of Brexit in the same way (Hil­lary) Clin­ton might have,” said the in­flu­en­tial euroscep­tic.

Bri­tain in ‘Best’ Po­si­tion

Seek­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on a Trump pres­i­dency, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May wasted no time in em­pha­siz­ing strong trans-At­lantic ties as she bids to forge new trade links out­side the EU. In her con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage to Trump on Wed­nes­day, she care­fully avoided sen­si­tive sub­jects - un­like Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande - to high­light the strong “trade, se­cu­rity and de­fense” ties be­tween Lon­don and Wash­ing­ton.

And writ­ing in the Spec­ta­tor mag­a­zine, po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Dou­glas Mur­ray said that in terms of trade, Bri­tain was “in the best pos­si­ble po­si­tion” with Trump in the White House. “Ev­ery­thing Trump has ever said sug­gests that he is ex­cep­tion­ally welld­is­posed to­wards the coun­try where his mother was born. In re­cent times such an at­ti­tude could not be taken for granted,” he wrote. That could bode well for the so-called “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” be­tween Bri­tain and the United States.

How­ever, many an­a­lysts also warn that Trump’s more pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to Bri­tain is out­weighed by his di­a­tribes against free trade and iso­la­tion­ist ten­den­cies. “Trump has been con­sis­tent in his op­po­si­tion to free trade. His po­lit­i­cal sym­pa­thies for Brexit are there­fore un­likely to lead him to pri­ori­tise a trade agree­ment with the UK once the coun­try leaves the EU,” said Flo­rian Otto, head of Europe re­search at global risk an­a­lysts Verisk Maple­croft. And there are early signs that Trump may not pri­or­i­tize the US’s tra­di­tional “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship”. The pres­i­dent-elect spoke to nine other lead­ers, in­clud­ing from Ire­land, Egypt and Aus­tralia, be­fore tele­phon­ing May, much to the an­noy­ance of Bri­tish media. Tom Raines, from the Chatham House in­ter­na­tional af­fairs think­tank, said that with his rad­i­cal poli­cies, Trump could end up hob­bling the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“I do not re­gard Trump as a useful ally for Bri­tain as it leaves the EU. If she had been elected, Hil­lary Clin­ton would likely have been a strong ad­vo­cate for a Brexit set­tle­ment,” he told AFP. “If Trump’s for­eign pol­icy fol­lows his cam­paign rhetoric, clashes are in­evitable,” he said. “The best the UK can hope for is that EU lead­ers, wor­ried about the di­rec­tion of the US, feel now is not the time to dis­tance them­selves fur­ther from the United King­dom,” he added.

Tim Oliver, an ex­pert on Europe-North Amer­ica re­la­tions at the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics university, said Trump’s elec­tion posed a dilemma for Bri­tain’s over­all strate­gic out­look. Though Bri­tain’s vote to leave the EU con­tained a de­sire to play an en­hanced global role, that largely de­pends upon co­op­er­a­tion with the United States. “In pres­i­dent Trump, the UK now finds it­self stuck be­tween a Trump rock and a Brexit hard place.”

May 10th on Call List

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