Inauguration day, here we are. Today, Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States of America.
A lot has been written about Trump breaking from conventional American foreign policy in numerous ways, not least of which in terms of volume having to do with how instead of seeing the European Union as the best guarantor for American interests in Europe (as every other president in the relevant era has done), Trump sees the EU as fundamentally a bad thing. Few of the speculative articles on this really seem to understand why Trump feels this way, although it is fairly obvious given everything else he’s said in politics. The EU is a rival market and Trump doesn’t like organised blocs with differing interests to what he sees as his own. If the EU fell apart, suddenly you would have all sorts of First World economies on their own again – desirable markets, now without the power of the bloc to force the US to give favourable trading conditions if it wants better access. Just as an aside, this is a similar reason as to why Putin doesn’t like the EU either – it’s about old school divide and conquer.
This should be kept in mind when considering a future US-UK free trade deal. If you think about the situation, Trump would be an idiot not to want to do a deal with the UK and as quickly as possible. To use a property related analogy – returning to what Trump knows best – Britain is like a prime piece of real estate the US has wanted to get its hands on. It now finds itself in a position in which the owners are having cashflow problems and desperately need to sell. Again, why the hell wouldn’t Trump want to offer a deal?
On his terms, of course, which is what most pro-Brexit British pundits overlook. There is an idea floating around amongst that circle that Britain will get a good deal because Trump wants to encourage other countries to leave the EU. Maybe – who knows, it could work out this way and I hope it does (the working out for Britain bit, just to clarify, not other countries leaving the EU). But bear in mind, this is entirely the whim of Trump and his advisors – the very, very soon to be president knows that he can offer Britain something rubbish and we’d probably snap it out of his hands, so whether a good deal comes our way or not has nothing whatsoever to do with the United Kingdom and what it has to offer America. It will be down to the assessment Trump makes around whether screwing the Brits is better for him than giving the UK a good deal to try and encourage the demise of the European Union. That’s it – that’s the calculation. So much for taking back control, huh?