Bri­tish re­la­tions

The Week Middle East - - News -

I see a “catas­tro­phe in the mak­ing”, said Jonathan Pow­ell in The Guardian. Don­ald Trump rep­re­sents every­thing Bri­tish diplo­mats have feared for more than 100 years: “a na­tivist, pro­tec­tion­ist and iso­la­tion­ist” who be­lieves the rest of the world “can go hang” is en­ter­ing the White House, and his arrival could not have come at a worse time. The US will be “turn­ing its back on the world”, just as Bri­tain is about to cut its ties with the EU. “We are go­ing to find our­selves very lonely in­deed.” And for­get the idea that Bri­tain will con­tinue to hold a spe­cial place in Amer­ica’s heart, said Anne Ap­ple­baum in The Mail on Sun­day. “I doubt Trump has ever heard the term ‘spe­cial re­la­tion­ship’ ex­cept per­haps in con­ver­sa­tions about some­body’s mis­tress.”

Well at least our Prime Min­is­ter, who last De­cem­ber dis­missed Trump’s poli­cies as “di­vi­sive, un­help­ful and wrong”, is now mak­ing warm over­tures to him, said Imo­gen Groome in The In­de­pen­dent. Many have de­nounced her for do­ing so, but in­stead of get­ting “bogged down in ha­tred for ev­ery po­lit­i­cal out­come of 2016”, let’s face a few facts. Obama said Bri­tain would be “at the back of the queue” for any trade deal with the US. Trump, by con­trast, says he wants to scrap a trade deal with the EU “in favour of in­di­vid­ual deals with in­di­vid­ual coun­tries”. And there’s good rea­son to think our na­tion will be close to the top of his list. The pres­i­dent-elect has close ties with the UK – his mother was born in Scot­land where he also owns two golf cour­ses – and he speaks of Bri­tain as a “great ally”. Like him or not, a Trump pres­i­dency could be good for Bri­tain. Not least by strength­en­ing our po­si­tion in the Brexit talks, said James Forsyth in The Sun. The Re­main­ers’ claim that Bri­tain would be iso­lated if it left the EU looks a lot weaker when the pres­i­dent-elect of the most pow­er­ful na­tion in the world is a Brexit en­thu­si­ast.

Don’t be so sure, said An­drew Rawns­ley in The Ob­server. Last week May had to wait in line be­hind nine other na­tional lead­ers for her chance to “ex­change ba­nal­i­ties about the spe­cial re­la­tion­ship”. Worse still, the first Bri­tish politi­cian Trump deigned to meet and take into his con­fi­dence wasn’t our PM, said The Mail on Sun­day, it was UKIP’s Nigel Farage – “a gold-plated snub” if ever there was one. It is hu­mil­i­at­ing, lamented Rachel Sylvester in The Times. “The pin­striped, pint-swill­ing, chain-smoking, small-minded buf­foon seems to have be­come the face of Bri­tain on the world stage.” Ac­tu­ally, the idea of Farage act­ing as go-be­tween in Washington isn’t as “bizarre or un­wel­come” as it ap­pears, said The In­de­pen­dent. “Post-Brexit, the UK needs all the friends it can get”: if that means ex­ploit­ing Farage’s weird “rap­port with The Don­ald”, so be it. But don’t ex­pect any trade deal with the US to be forth­com­ing. Trump is clear that his pri­or­ity is to bring jobs back to the US by erect­ing trade bar­ri­ers, “and there’s noth­ing spe­cial about Bri­tish ex­ports that makes them in some way harm­less to the Amer­i­can com­pe­ti­tion.” The Bri­tish “should not get their hopes up too high”.

With Farage: weird “rap­port”

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