Is Theresa May worse than Donald Trump
What will it be like when British Prime Minister Theresa May meets the new US President Donald Trump in Washington on Friday evening, Central European Time? How could such a conversation take place? According to the way he appears in interviews, sentences like these are likely to come up: "Great Britain is a great country. I love the country very much. I am the greatest lover of Great Britain on earth." Or something like that.
Donald Trump is the man Europeans somehow have to deal with now. And May is the first European head of government, the first foreign head of government ever, to meet the US president face to face.
It can therefore be assumed that May will make some phone calls with her European counterparts after the meeting. And they will ask: "Is it really like that? Is everything much worse?"
May is flying to the United States with big intentions. She wants to talk about the Syria conflict, about NATO, about Russia. So about topics with which Trump has massively irritated many Europeans. NATO was "obsolete," he said in an interview with picture and the Londoner Times. Trump seems to want to stay out of Syria in the future. He seems to get along better with Putin than with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
May's goal: a bilateral trade agreement
But May does not travel to the USA for the Europeans. It is doing it primarily with the aim of getting a bilateral trade agreement off the ground. If the British exit the European Union is serious, the UK urgently needs new partners in the world. May wants a hard Brexit, including the exit from the EU internal market. That makes it all the more urgent.
Especially since the EU-Europeans are hardly willing to make things easy for the British as things stand today. May believes, for example, that Great Britain could be granted the best possible access to the EU internal market without giving EU citizens a right to work in the British Isles. EU representatives have already dismissed such ideas as unrealistic.
At the end of March, May wants to initiate the exit procedure under Article 50 of the European Treaties. She has now submitted a law to the British Parliament. The Supreme Court ordered it that way. But May is sticking to her schedule: the members of the upper and lower houses should now approve the law by mid-February at the latest.
And then it gets serious. So serious that May would like to outline the future cooperation between the two states with Trump as specifically as possible.
The USA is already the second most important trading partner for Great Britain. To Germany. The trade volume amounts to a huge 173 billion euros, and most of the investments in the British market come from the USA.
May would like to expand that. "He has already assured me that he wants a very close relationship between the US and the UK," May said in a BBC television interview. But at the moment nobody knows what such insurance is worth. May still exudes optimism: Britain and the USA would "lead the world together" again after Brexit and with Trump as President.
At first an affront
Perhaps the gift that May wants to present to the US President will help along the way: an ancient Scottish drinking vessel called the "Quaich", which is known as the "Cup of Friendship". Trump's mother was of Scottish descent. And Trump is known to have a penchant for Scotland.
Trump has always supported Brexit - unlike May, who was originally against it. Now, of course, you are accommodating that Trump already sounded in June: "You will certainly not be at the end of the line."
May may have liked less, however, that Trump received Nigel Farage, one of the leaders of the British Brexit movement, as the first European politician ever after the election on November 8th in Trump Tower in New York. In the photos, both seem to be in an exuberant mood. Trump caused further resentment when he recommended that the British government send Farage as ambassador to Washington. The UK government promptly indicated that it did not need such advice.
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May suffered the next humiliation when Trump, of all people, Michael Gove on the side of ex-picture-Chef Kai Diekmann for the interview for the Times received in Trump Tower. Gove is the first Tory politician that Trump has met since his election. The tough Brexit proponent and ex-minister is now earning extra income as a journalist. May had shut him down and referred him to the back benches of the British House of Commons.
Winston Churchill's bust as a positive signal
May, on the other hand, can take it as a sign of Trump's affection for Great Britain that he again had the bust of the British war premier Winston Churchill erected in the Oval Office. The fact that Trump terminated the Trans-Pacific trade agreement with Japan, Australia and Vietnam (TPP) can give her hope. Trump wants trade - just according to his rules of the game. Whether that will be good or bad for the British remains to be seen.
Because Trump will probably take his motto "America first" seriously. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, praised the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom on Monday. But he also said: "A closer cooperation is always possible." That can be an invitation. But this can also indicate that a friendly face does not rule out tough negotiations.
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