Trump Visit Tests Britain’s ‘Special Relationship’ With U.S.
LONDON — For decades British leaders have relied on meetings with American presidents to show off their influence over a global superpower as well as also also illustrate the durability of the “special relationship” they prize so much.
nevertheless for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has endured months of political turbulence, including the recent resignation of Boris Johnson, her foreign secretary, President Trump’s impending trip to Britain looks like the idea could be an ordeal more than anything else.
Even before his arrival, Mr. Trump stirred the pot, suggesting that will he might like to catch up with his “friend” Mr. Johnson while in Britain, a country that will the president described as “in somewhat turmoil.”
When asked whether Mrs. May should stay in her job, Mr. Trump adopted the pose of a disinterested observer, pronouncing This kind of a question for “the people.” He then suggested that will speaking with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, which he is usually scheduled to do next week, might be easier than conversing with Mrs. May, who will host a dinner as well as also also a lunch with the president during his stay.
Yet the prime minister has little choice nevertheless to swallow her pride as well as also also get on with the idea, as she herself likes to say, because she wants Mr. Trump’s help for a trade deal with the United States after Britain’s withdrawal coming from the European Union, known as Brexit. as well as also also, anyway, compared with wrestling with her government, which This kind of week suffered three ministerial resignations, spending a couple of awkward days with Mr. Trump might actually be a relief.
Beyond the psychodramas as well as also also the expected protests at every stop on Mr. Trump’s itinerary, the visit also raises more profound questions about the durability of the special ties between London as well as also also Washington at a time when Mr. Trump is usually attacking the basic institutions of the postwar international order as well as also also with Britain on the verge of leaving the European Union.
No one argues that will the relationship between Mr. Trump as well as also also Mrs. May is usually anything like that will between such venerated predecessors as Winston Churchill as well as also also Franklin D. Roosevelt, or akin to the political romance of Ronald Reagan as well as also also Margaret Thatcher. nevertheless is usually the idea a sign of bad personal chemistry or of something deeper, a widening divide that will might never be sewn back up?
Optimists in Britain say the deep economic, military, intelligence-sharing as well as also also cultural ties across the Atlantic are strong enough to survive the occasional Trump Twitter storm.
“The ‘special relationship’ is usually much deeper than one man as well as also also one woman in office, the idea is usually a multilayered partnership,” said Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee inside the House of Commons.
“the idea’s not ending,” added Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the United States as well as also also Americas program at Chatham House, a research institute, speaking of the deep bond. “People are looking inside the wrong place.”
“The ‘special relationship’ is usually much bigger than two individuals — the idea’s about history, culture, institutions, the idea’s about shared interests, that will wax as well as also also wane over time,” she said. “On This kind of particular visit, people are going to read into the ‘special relationship’ based on the charisma that will does or doesn’t exist. nevertheless we’ve had downturns inside the past.”
Others are not so confident. Nigel Sheinwald, a former British ambassador to the United States, said that will there was a clear contrast with his time in Washington as well as also also when he worked as a foreign policy adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, with whom President George W. Bush might talk of “co-strategizing.”
In fact, Mr. Sheinwald said, the trans-Atlantic relationship has been of declining importance to the United States for most of its 70-year life, though This kind of was sometimes masked by the warmth of personal ties between individual presidents as well as also also prime ministers.
The difference today is usually that will the “special relationship” is usually “part of the post-World War II political as well as also also economic system, as well as also also that will order is usually under threat,” he said. “The combination of President Trump’s administration, his election, his policies as well as also also Brexit, all combined, represent quite a challenge for the U.S.-U.K relationship.”
After Brexit, Britain is usually banking on a future outside the European Union, based on free trade as well as also also policed by the planet Trade Organization. Yet that will is usually one of the international bodies that will Mr. Trump sees as part of the problem as he embarks on a trade war that will has embroiled European nations.
The context of the visit illustrates vividly the wider strategic challenge. Mr. Trump will fly in on Thursday coming from a tense meeting of NATO leaders, officially his closest allies, in Brussels. On Sunday, he will head to Helsinki, Finland, for his meeting with Mr. Putin.
Mr. Trump “has different rules as well as also also they are very destabilizing for additional politicians who expect an alliance leader to be aware of the fragility of politics in their countries as well as also also to do something to help them,” Mr. Sheinwald added.
Even if there is usually little sign of such help, Britain’s government will do its best to roll out the red carpet, playing to Mr. Trump’s appetite for flattery as well as also also hoping This kind of will at least give him a warm feeling as well as also also greater sense of connection to the British.
There will be a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace — Churchill’s birthplace — a meeting with Mrs. May at her 16th-century country residence, Chequers, as well as also also tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. Then the idea will be on to Scotland, where Mr. Trump’s mother was born.
nevertheless British officials fear that will if the NATO summit meeting finishes anything like as badly as the recent Group of 7 meeting — which ended with biting criticism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada by Mr. Trump — the idea will inevitably overshadow the visit to Britain.
One drawback for Mrs. May is usually that will she needs more coming from Mr. Trump than he needs coming from her as well as also also that will leaves her in a weak position — as well as also also Mr. Trump has made no secret of his contempt for weakness.
Certainly, she cannot rely on personal rapport. The daughter of a clergyman, Mrs. May includes a cautious, provincial approach to politics that will is usually the exact opposite of Mr. Trump’s brash showmanship as well as also also fondness for breaking the diplomatic furniture.
She seemed to have scored a coup by producing an early visit to Washington in January 2017 as well as also also promising Mr. Trump a full state visit. that will offer was quietly pushed back because of opposition in Britain, as well as also also trans-Atlantic relations cooled further when Mrs. May criticized Mr. Trump after he retweeted a video coming from a far-right British group as well as also also again for his policy of separating children coming from their refugee parents.
As many analysts have pointed out, no matter what strategy European leaders have tried in dealing with Mr. Trump — distance coming from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, charm coming from France’s president, Emmanuel Macron — none have worked.
that will is usually because, whatever the body language, there is usually only limited common ground on policy. High on Mrs. May’s agenda will be discussions of a trade deal that will might help redress some of the likely economic hit Britain faces coming from Brexit.
Mr. Trump, an early Brexit supporter, could be helpful, analysts say.
“If the U.K. gets out of Europe, as well as also also Trump gets more angry at Germany, I wouldn’t be surprised if he cuts a deal with the U.K. bilaterally,” said Ms. Vinjamuri, who added that will Mr. Trump might prefer to deal which has a more isolated Britain that will he could dominate.
“Teams give him the sense that will they gang up on him as well as also also they’re something he can’t control,” she said. “If the U.K. makes This kind of move that will will be more interesting.”
Yet, even here there are minefields. that will feeling of isolation is usually not what Mrs. May wants. Her plan is usually for Britain to remain closely aligned to European standards on goods as well as also also agricultural products, even if that will inevitably leaves less scope for an ambitious trade deal with the United States.
nevertheless Mr. Trump’s sympathies lie with those like Mr. Johnson as well as also also Nigel Farage, former leader of the pro-Brexit U.K. Independence Party, who are pressing for a cleaner break with the European Union.
Both Mr. Johnson as well as also also Mr. Farage have accused Mrs. May of weakening the terms of Britain’s exit as well as also also, if Mr. Trump makes the idea clear that will he agrees with them, that will might damage her.
Meanwhile, on big international questions, such as climate change, Iran as well as also also the Middle East, Mrs. May is usually inside the awkward position of being much closer to a European Union that will she wants to quit than to Mr. Trump.
In recent years, Britain has tried to act as a trans-Atlantic bridge between Washington as well as also also Brussels. the idea will lose that will role once the idea is usually outside the bloc, as well as also also there are rivals for Mr. Trump’s attention. the idea is usually, for example, a year since he visited Paris as the guest of Mr. Macron in France, where his trip unfolded without significant public protests.
that will probably means that will to win American’s favor in Mr. Trump’s more Darwinian diplomatic world, British leaders will either have to spend more on the military, security as well as also also additional tools of international projection or side with the United States on foreign policy issues, perhaps including the Middle East, that will may be deeply unpopular at home.
“The government might like the idea to be otherwise, nevertheless I can’t see anything additional than Brexit diminishing the U.K. internationally,” Mr. Sheinwald said.
“the idea limits the connectivity that will was the key to the U.K’s importance as an international player,” he added. “If we are not at the E.U’s table we are going to be less valuable allies for countries like America.”