Tag Archives: trade deal

TRUMP’S VISIT TO ENGLAND

At long last, some good news!

President Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom was very successful and has given the British people a much needed boost in the midst of Brexit.

The British would probably have been ok even without the US, but Trump’s promise of a trade deal couldn’t have come at a better time.   Mrs. May ceases to be prime minister at the end of the week, having failed in her bid to do a “deal” with Europe.  (She will continue in a caretaker role until a new leader of the Conservative Party is chosen.)

Mr. Trump made the effort to talk to Boris Johnson and to meet with both Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, the three most likely men to replace Mrs. May.   He already knew the first two.  He also spent some time with Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party.   Mr. Trump is firmly on the side of Brexit, which will put a dent in the European Union, arguably America’s greatest trade rival.

Some voices were raised against Trump.  PBS said the “streets were flooded” with demonstrators.  250,000 were expected; 75,000 turned up, according to organizers.   Others felt the number was considerably less.   Hardly a flood!   An opinion poll found that 46% of the British people supported the visit; only 40% were against. Those numbers were a lot better than on his previous visit.   People have seemingly become aware that he is in favor of a strong, individual nation state, and against globalization.

He was well received by the royal family, in spite of the revelation of a negative comment made by Meghan Markle prior to her marriage to Prince Harry.

Criticism from London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, continues but it did not influence anybody else.   Mr. Khan, a Muslim, began his spat with Trump when the president introduced curbs on immigrants from Muslim countries.   His negativity only strengthens how actor John Cleese described London a few days ago as a non-English city – it’s unlikely to be in step with the rest of the country from now on. Jeremy Corbyn was another critical voice.   The leader of the Labor Party seems happy to meet with terrorist leaders but not with the US president.

President Trump extolled the virtues of the Anglo-American alliance, two nations that have been the greatest alliance in history. It took Robert Tuttle, a former US Ambassador to the UK on Sky TV, to add another three countries:   “Canada, Australia and New Zealand.”   The Australian prime minister sat behind the Queen and President for the celebrations commemorating D-Day.   The Canadian prime minister was also present.   All three countries contributed to the D-Day landings.

There are now two clearly defined ideas when it comes to the future of the western world.   Angela Merkel gave the commencement speech at Harvard University.   Her priority is still globalization.   While Trump’s speeches in England were all about the nation state.   Comments posted to websites talked about role reversal – that Merkel believes in freedom while Trump is for fascism.   Such comments show people’s ignorance.   Nationalism is a far cry from fascism.   And fascism is more likely to come out of the EU than the US.   Too many people on the left are too quick to label a conservative “fascist.”

CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES

Other challenges lie ahead. Britain is in the midst of a constitutional crisis; the US seems headed for one.

Britain’s is all to do with Brexit.  And the referendum on the subject was won three years ago by supporters of the country leaving the EU.   Parliament will not support the British people’s vote and, instead, is split between those who support Brexit with a deal and those who wish to remain members of the EU.   Those supporting Brexit with a deal are not facing reality as the EU will not give them a deal it could accept.   The uncertainty has gone on for three years, eroding any respect for Britain that the EU might have had.   If they upset the EU any more, they may find themselves kicked out of the organization.

On the anniversary of D-Day today, June 6th, the Daily Express Head of News, Paul Baldwin, mused on the anniversary of the landings:  “It’s interesting and quite moving to think that 75 years ago today one of the biggest armadas ever assembled was about to set off and head for northern France and liberate Europe from the yoke of Nazism.   And we’re now seeing 75 years later that Britain is, at best, tolerated by our European neighbors and at worst, possibly despised.”   (Daily Express 6/6)

Not only is there uncertainty over Brexit.   There is also uncertainty over who will replace Mrs. May as PM.   The choice is most undemocratic.

“At some point in June or July roughly 124,000 people in Britain can expect to receive a ballot paper in the post.   It will offer them the names of two Conservative MPs (members of parliament).   The one they select will, shortly thereafter, enter 10 Downing Street as prime minister.   The rest of Britain’s 66 million inhabitants will have no say whatsoever.”   (“The Referendums and the damage done,” The Economist, 6/1).

The new leader will serve out the term of this government.   Then he will have to stand for election with everyone else and may be defeated.   More uncertainty.

The US has a constitutional crisis pending, as most Democrats want President Trump to be impeached, claiming his behavior warrants this.   More likely, it’s because they know there is no prospect of winning the 2020 election and want to find some way to get rid of him so that a Democrat is more likely to win.   In other words, it’s all politics.

But, the process of impeachment would damage the US considerably.   Financial markets hate instability.   Trump has been good for business; any attempt to remove him would likely have a negative effect on the economy.

So, both countries may have constitutional crises’ at the same time.

This would make ineffective the famed Anglo-American alliance, upon which the free world has been largely built.

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GOVERNMENTS IN CRISIS

First came Brexit; followed by Donald Trump four months later.

Both showed that voters wanted significant change.   Both are considered populist.   Two years later, Britain and America, once the most stable nations in the world, are now in turmoil.   Their friends and allies are in confusion.

Mrs. May’s Conservative government could fall at any time.   She survived this week and things are likely to quiet down with the summer recess, but with only a few months until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, there’s going to be more turmoil ahead.

There is little reporting on Brexit in the United States.   Americans don’t realize how important it is.   The best analogy is this:  California has voted to leave the United States, effective March 29th 2019.  The vote was over two years ago, but there’s still no agreement on trade between California and the other 49 states and time is running out.   What about passports?   Residence rights – can Californians remain in the other states after 3/29?   Can people from Michigan remain in California if they own a home and work there?

It’s almost unthinkable.   So is Brexit, except that it’s less than fifty years since the UK was a fully independent country outside of the EU (then the EEC, the European Economic Community).

It gets more complicated.

BREXIT VOTE

The referendum of June 2016 was a free vote.   Many Conservative MPs (Members of Parliament) voted to “Leave,” but many voted to “Remain.”   Members of the other political parties mostly voted to “Remain” in the EU.

73% of all MP’s support continued membership of the EU, including 56% of Conservatives.   But they are bound by the referendum result when 51.9% of the electorate voted to Leave, 48.1% Remain. Voter turnout was 72.21%, meaning that just over one third of British voters wanted to stay in the EU.   Parliament is clearly not in step with the people.   British democracy is at risk here.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister who presided over the vote, resigned.   He voted to “Remain;” as did Theresa May, his successor, who is now trying to deliver Brexit.   Although she is committed to honoring the will of the people and intends for Britain to leave Europe, she is clearly “hugging the coast” and wants as close a relationship as possible.   She made things more difficult for herself last year when she called for a General Election, resulting in a minority government, which is propped up by a party from Northern Ireland.

On Friday, 6th July, the Cabinet met at the Prime Minister’s country home of Chequers to discuss the way forward.   They drew up plans for further negotiations with the EU.    Since then, a number of party leaders have resigned, including the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and the chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis.   Both men accused Mrs. May of wanting a compromise.   Mrs May has had twelve frontbenchers  resign since the election last year.

Visiting US President Donald Trump was in the UK a week later and got involved by stating that if the UK does not break away from Europe completely, the US may not be able to give the country a trade deal.   If Britain were bound in some way to EU trade regulations, it would complicate a trade deal with America.   Mr. Trump also said that he thought that Mr. Johnson, a close personal friend, would make a great prime minister.

Boris Johnson gave a Churchillian speech in parliament on Wednesday on why he resigned, criticizing Mrs. May and claiming that Brexit can be saved.   Mr. Johnson has made a point of saying that the British have lost the confidence needed to go it alone.   He claims that May’s proposals would lead to Britain becoming a “colony” of the German led EU.   A poll yesterday by “Westmonster” showed that, given a choice between Johnson or May, 93% of voters would support Mr. Johnson.   (“Westmonster” is similar to Breitbart.)

It’s reminiscent of the late 1930’s, with a weak, compromising Prime Minister (Chamberlain / May) and one voice defying Europe (Winston Churchill/ Boris Johnson).   Churchill is Mr. Johnson’s hero – he wrote a book on him a few years ago:  “The Churchill Factor: How one man made history.”   He may yet succeed May and lead Britain to a full Brexit.

US PRESIDENT TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

Mr. Trump was criticized for getting involved in British domestic affairs.  In an interview after his visit to the UK, he was asked who is America’s biggest “foe.”   He replied that the EU is the biggest foe of the US at this time.

This followed his attendance in Brussels at the NATO conference, at which he threatened to pull America out of NATO if European countries do not contribute more to the military organization.

Not all EU countries are members of NATO.   The EU is a major trading organization, whereas NATO is a military alliance.   Within the space of a few days, Mr. Trump criticized the two organizations that have been pillars of the Western Alliance for many decades.   An immediate consequence was the EU signing a trade agreement with Japan.   The EU is already China’s largest trading partner, and China is the EU’s second largest trade partner after the US.   The EU, China and Japan are busy building closer ties as the US turns away.

Mr. Trump ended his European trip with a visit to Helsinki to meet with Russia’s President Putin.   This was the most shocking meeting of all with the US president seeming to support Mr. Putin against his own intelligence services, Putin denying that Russia interfered in the US election.   Mr. Trump has backtracked on his claim, now supporting his intelligence services; but has followed all this by inviting Putin to Washington in the autumn.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the President of the United States, in just a few days, turned the world upside down.

The late Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, wrote a memoir of his years in the diplomatic service after World War II when America built the present world order.   He gave the book the title:   “Present at the Creation”, published in 1969.   It would be appropriate now for somebody involved in current events, to write a sequel:   “Present at the Destruction.”

The seventy-year global world order put together mostly by America and Britain is ending.   It may take a year or two to see clearly what will replace it.