Theresa May’s belief that Donald Trump’s election will be good for Britain is delusional, one of the most senior politicians in Germany said last Friday. The Republicans’ shock victory leaves Britain more isolated after Brexit and with a much reduced chance of striking a trade deal with the United States, Alex Schäfer, a key Brexit advisor in Berlin, told The Times.
I happen to share the same view. The special relationship between Britain and the United States is more of a myth than a reality. With the unpredictability of Donald Trump, no one in his right mind at this stage can predict what a future relationship with Britain will entail. The Prime Minister, whose optimism is often fanciful, has made plain her desire for a pragmatic relationship with the President Elect in marked contrast with much of the European Union, where leaders with the rest of the world have reacted with great concern and some with unbridled alarm. The split in approach took a rather pessimistic turn when it appeared that Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, was unlikely to attend a European crisis meeting scheduled for this week to discuss the US election after saying that the EU was engaging in a ‘whinge-o-rama’, an expression typical of the flippancy of our wayward foreign secretary.
Jean Claude Junker, the hard hitting President of the European Commission, said last Friday that the EU would love to teach Mr Trump ‘what Europe is and how it worked,’ saying that the election result posed risks for transatlantic relationships. ‘I think we will waste two years before Mr Trump tours a world he does not know,’ Mr Junker added. On the other hand, some British Ministers belief that Mr Trump will look favourably on Britain and facilitate a quick trade deal having been previously critical of the EU and a staunch supporter of Brexit.
However, Mr Schäfer, a leading member of the German Social Democratic party which will be at the forefront of Berlin’s Brexit negotiations, said that such hopes were unfounded: ‘What changed with Trump’s election is a likelihood of a speedy and preferential deal between UK and US,’ he said. ‘Even before Tuesday the chances were rather low, now the hope for this kind of deal seems delusional. Regarding foreign and security policy in general the UK can withdraw from the European Union, but they cannot withdraw themselves from the European map. With a more inward-looking Trump administration it is in the UK’s own interest to seek close cooperation with their EU partners.’
What a mess we are likely to create for ourselves in the turbulent months to come unless we close ranks and refrain from any silly talk of the sort peddled from the Conservative right-wing. It’s bound to cause great harm for any future talks with our European partners, whose influence in the world at large should never be underestimated.
The Ides of March will not augur well for Britain if we pursue a policy instigated by right-wing invective from within the ranks of the Conservative administration. Let’s keep our cool and use our noted political acumen as the current unexpected storm subsides.