Dutch Hope for Smooth Brexit, Russians Have Little Faith in Trump

The Dutch lobby both sides. Russians suspect Donald Trump will throw them under the bus.

Mehreen Khan reports for the Financial Times that the Dutch are lobbying both sides in the Brexit negotiations: They are pleading with the Brits to decide what they want and trying to ensure in Brussels that the United Kingdom is given plenty of room to reverse course or rethink red lines, whether it be on the customs union or anything else.

The reason: close relations across the North Sea.

Britain’s erstwhile continental ally has been a reliable partner on everything from EU budget contributions to the single market but is now uniquely exposed to the economic and emotional side-effects of Brexit.

In France, by contrast, attitudes have hardened. Since Emmanuel Macron’s election last summer, the share of French voters who wish the British would change their minds has fallen. Tony Barber argues that Brexit is now seen as not a loss but a potential gain to France.

Italian election updates

  • Our election guide is up. It contains everything you need to know: an explanation of the electoral system and overviews of the parties, their leaders and possible coalitions.
  • In my latest contribution to the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog, I argue that Silvio Berlusconi is suddenly Italy’s best hope. Whether he leads a right-wing coalition or teams up with the center-left Democrats, a strong showing for Berlusconi’s conservative party would avoid Europe’s worst fear: an anti-EU, pro-Russian pact between the Five Star Movement, Northern League and Brothers of Italy.
  • Antonello Guerrera of La Repubblica examines the impossible spending promises of the four largest parties.

Trump’s weapons ban unlikely to succeed

American president Donald Trump is calling for a ban on so-called bump stocks and similar devices that effectively turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns.

It’s unlikely to work. The problem, writes Josh Barro in Business Insider, is that federal agencies don’t have the legal authority to ban the devices. To outlaw them, Congress needs to act.

Good luck with that.

Russians have little faith in Trump

Mark Galeotti writes for Vice that Moscow has little faith in Trump.

My own conversations with Russian officials and think-tankers suggest they regard it as inevitable that the [Robert] Mueller investigation, even if not explicitly meant for this purpose, will in due course lead to a tougher US line against Moscow. Despite Trump’s perverse — even to Russian ears — praise for [Vladimir] Putin, there is a pervasive sense that he is both not in control of the American system and also interested only in himself.

Russians suspect that Trump will thrown them under the bus the moment his survival requires it.

What is he waiting for?