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Trump vs UK: Egregious intervention

Mahmudur Rahman | June 03, 2019 00:00:00

London Mayor Sadik Khan didn't mince words in describing US President Donald Trump as 'egregious' following his two stark interventions in British politics. There're no guesses what Trump would have done had the shoe been on the other foot though it is doubtful whether his vocabulary would have been as apt. His view that Boris Johnson should be Prime Minister and that Nigel Farage in charge of Brexit negotiations goes against the ilk of British politics. While Johnson could still become the head of government, he has been accused of falsifying the facts in the Brexit campaign three years ago when he claimed £350 million a week should be used to fund the National Health Service (NHS) rather than pay European bills. That that didn't surface was dubiously swept under the carpet in between misquotes and misunderstanding. However the double decker buses' photograph with the amount has forever been captured in still and video photography.

As for Farage, despite the Brexit party's success in the European Union (EU) elections, he is still a politician, contrary to his claims, who doesn't represent an electorate group. But based on Mr. Trump's delight in musical chairs with his appointments he would rather stir things up to no end. His view that the UK should refuse to pay the divorce bill of £39 billion and walk away with no deal causes consternation in the UK political process where a 'no deal' Brexit has been voted down by the House of Commons and not been entertained by John Bercow, the House Speaker. The problem also with Farage is that his new party hasn't got purchase even at home with Conservative MPs demanding to know where his registered funding is coming from. Be that as it may, Farage holds an upper hand through his success at the EU seats that the UK has.

Mr. Trump's comments comes before his upcoming visit to the UK but no British politician has so far come out in remonstrations or criticism of what is blatant interference in its internal politics. It's easy for Mr. Trump to say he would walk away from the deal but that would be impossible given the country's system of governance and unlike that of the United States where, more or less, what Trump says goes. During his last visit he had given the same advice - of suing the EU - to Theresa May, who has only a few days left as Prime Minister, a notion she laughed off as a joke. Mr. Trump doesn't joke and has since retracted from his position that post-Brexit the UK would have to wait its turn in the queue for a trade deal. Now he says he will do everything possible for such a deal. What he hasn't said is whether that is incumbent to the walk away from Brexit.

As matters stand and the UK looks for a replacement Prime Minister, unlikely till end July at best due to the process, there is just no headway as outgoing EU Chief Jean Claude Juncker sticks to the 'no further negotiation possible' position. The UK however proceeds in its view that renegotiation is very much of an option, possibly but improbably taking heart from the sweeping rise of nationalist and Greens Party majorities in the EU Parliament. Much will depend on who becomes the new EU Chief as well as emergent strong man Emmanuel Macron's views. He for one was the man strongly opposed to any further opening of negotiations now that the more subtle Angela Merkel is weakened both in terms of EU representation and her announcement on withdrawing from politics in a year or so.

Johnson, who has thrown in the hat for Premiership, believes further negotiation is possible even though he is a hard Brexiter and he knows the Conservative Party could be split down the middle if he plumps for a no deal Brexit. Even the Labour Party is against it, agreeable only if a common customs union can be forged . In the middle of it all they are essentially giving a thumbs down to the EU that brings on stormy rather than clear skies. But Johnson and Farage are favourites because they're willing to take on the establishment, one of Mr. Trump's favourite pastimes.

The looming date is October 31, contingent on a deal, not a no deal and it's a prospect the prospective Prime Ministers will be wary of. Short of that, and if the Conservatives fail to hold together their slim majority with support from the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party), general elections may be the only answer. Such is the mess of the matter.

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