Opinion

British Conservatives Shouldn’t Root for Trump

What has the Republican done for the United Kingdom in the last four years?

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12, 2017 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

Like in 2016, there are those on the British right who are rooting for Donald Trump’s reelection.

Like in 2016, they are deluding themselves if they think the Republican will be better for Britain than his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

Irish border

Prominent Conservatives have criticized Biden, whose mother’s family is Irish, for warning that the Good Friday Agreement, and the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, must not become a “casualty” of Brexit.

The Conservative government has threatened to pull out of a deal that would keep the province under some EU regulations in order to avoid customs checks.

Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative Party leader, said:

We don’t need lectures on the Northern Ireland peace deal from Mr Biden. If I were him I would worry more about the need for a peace deal in the USA to stop the killing and rioting before lecturing other sovereign nations.

David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, suggested:

Perhaps Mr Biden should talk to the EU since the only threat of an invisible border in Ireland would be if they insisted on levying tariffs.

Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, has called Biden “anti-British” and argued:

The special relationship is vital for post-Brexit Britain and will only be safe in Trump’s hands.

Trump’s record

But what has Trump done for the United Kingdom in the last four years?

He promised a trade deal to make up for Britain’s exit from the European Union — which he supported — but hasn’t even started negotiating one.

He has weakened NATO, the linchpin of British security, by withdrawing troops from Germany and calling America’s commitment to the defense of the old continent into doubt.

He is convincing Europeans to militarize the EU, which excludes the UK.

Sovereignty

Brexiteers wanted out of the EU to reclaim their “sovereignty”, but they have been willing to cede decisionmaking to Washington.

When Trump said he would no longer deal with Ambassador Kim Darroch, after unkind comments he made about the president were published in the Daily Mail, Britain fired him.

When the United States threatened to curtail intelligence-sharing if Britain allowed China’s Huawei to supply its 5G telecoms, Prime Minister Boris Johnson changed his policy.

Zero-sum

Would a reelected Trump tolerate Britain’s defense of the Iran nuclear deal?

Would he not insist on Britain lowering its food standards, or perhaps leaving the Paris climate accord, or the World Health Organization, if it wanted a trade deal?

Trump treats foreign affairs as a zero-sum game. He believes a “good” deal for America is one in which the other party loses. There is no reason to expect he would treat the United Kingdom any differently. He has shown no particular affinity for the “special relationship”.

Better to bet on Biden, whose views on climate change, Iran’s nuclear program, multilateralism, NATO and Russia align more closely with the UK’s.

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