Why Trump is good news for a successful Brexit

For a variety of reasons, the Trump presidency will probably make it easier for Britain to get a decent trade deal with Brussels, and we reckon that Britain will get a free trade deal with the US before the EU does anyway. Care to take bets?

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Brexit's ally in the White House
The_commentator_logo_updated9
the commentator
On 14 November 2016 06:35

No wonder the Brussels establishment is in a tizz about Donald Trump's victory in last week's US elections. Once again, "ordinary people" -- what a patronising construction in itself -- have had the bare faced cheek to disobey polite society and cast their ballots precisely as they wished.

At least on this occasion they can't force the American people to vote again until they give the "right" answer, as they did twice in Ireland, or simply ignore the result, as they did over the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands.

The real, and very pressing, question they have to grapple with now is what the forthcoming Trump presidency means for Brexit. For while nothing is certain at this stage, it seems likely that Britain's negotiating position over our impending withdrawal from the European Union has been strengthened dramatically.

For one thing, Obama's ill-fated intervention prior to the June referendum, in which he said Britain would go to the back of the queue in terms of US priorities in forging trade treaties, has just been consigned to the dustbin of history -- like pretty much every other claim made by the Project Fear camp.

Unlike Obama, Trump actually likes Britain, and, before the referendum took place, he was open in saying that Brexit was probably the right decision for Britain to take. He is well disposed to the decision the British people made, and that in itself is a bonus.

Also, as one of the few NATO countries (most EU member states are members of NATO too) to pay our way by spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defence, we aren't free riders on American largesse. And Trump hates nothing more than free riders who exploit American generosity.

To be sure, this isn't a silver bullet. Trump campaigned against trade treaties from NAFTA (the deal with Canada and Mexico) to TPP (the probably now defunct deal with Asian countries minus China). If he emerges as a protectionist and an isolationist, help for Brexit may be more rhetorical than real.

And yet, we have been seeing a very much more pragmatic and sober Donald Trump since he won the election.

Our sources in Washington say that he is likely to take a very dim view if the European Union attempts to "punish" Britain by failing to accept a reasonable free trade deal when we leave both the EU itself and its single market. The Brussels elite will be aware of this, and that strengthens our hand.

In practical terms, it would also be far easier for the United States to make a free trade deal with Britain on its own than the (soon to be) 27 members of the EU.

We're going to make two predictions at this stage, a soft one and a hard one.

The soft prediction is that the Trump presidency really will make it easier for Britain to get a decent deal with Brussels. The hard prediction is that Britain will get a free trade deal with the United States before the EU does.

Anyone care to take a bet?

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