Advertise On EU-Digest

Annual Advertising Rates


Britain-US relations: May's delay over Trump visit backfires as US-EU divide grows - by Patrick Wintour

If Theresa May thought her favoured weapon – delay – would somehow ensure Donald Trump’s visit to the UK next month would be less controversial than if it had occurred last year, she appears to have miscalculated. Six months ago the president was plausibly an unpredictable nationalist constrained by the senior Republicans surrounding him. He had quit the UN’s climate change agreement but otherwise his foreign policy was largely a complaint that America had to pick up Europe’s tab.

The crisis in transatlantic relations was uncomfortable but containable. In May’s cabinet, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, held sway, arguing that post-Brexit Britain had to remain close to a country with which it had a natural affinity, and anyway Trump’s re-election could not be discounted. The UK had no option but to ride, and if possible tame, the Trump tiger. The perennial role as America’s ambassador to Europe remained viable.

But in the second year of Trump’s presidency that assessment looks shakier. The adults have left the room and Trump 2.0 presents May with uncomfortable choices she would prefer to avoid.
The two latest episodes – the US withdrawal from the UN human rights council and the sight of child immigrants in cages on the US border – are connected only by timing and the outrage they engender.

The withdrawal from the rights council was long planned, and the US dislike of its perceived anti-Israeli bias is shared by the UK. Aware of the imminent US decision, Johnson travelled to Geneva on Monday to voice his concern to the council directly, not endorsing the US move but showing some sympathy. The predominant UK diplomatic view is that the council, for all its faults, is one of the few institutions where tyrants and authoritarians are held to account. The true beneficiary of a US withdrawal is not Israel but the Gulf kingdoms.

Every country lobbies for its own interests, but Trump, in the eyes of Paris and Berlin, seems to be going a step further. Rather than being indifferent to the EU’s survival, he appears to revel in the weakening of mainstream Europe’s leaders. All the alliances, trading relationships and international institutions that have characterised the US-led order for 70 years, including Nato, are now on notice.

That leaves May stranded and UK foreign policy experts in introspective mood. The Foreign Office recognises that outside the EU, the UK as a medium-sized power will need multilateralism more than ever.

Read more: May's delay over Trump visit backfires as US-EU divide grows | Politics | The Guardian

No comments: