Tuesday 11 July 2017

Friends and vultures

The UK Prime Minister has seized on Donald Trump’s statement that a trade deal with the UK can be done “very, very quickly” once the UK has left the EU.  According to the Sunday Times, she claimed it as evidence that Brexit is back on track.  Funny, though – I can’t remember her ever saying that it had gone off track; the official position has always been that everything is moving along in accordance with her plan.
Anyway, I know that she’s desperate and looking for straws to clutch at, but is there any other leader, of any country, who would take this sort of superficial fluffy statement from Trump at face value?  He’s shown repeatedly that he can say one thing one day and the complete reverse the next, all the while arguing that he’s being entirely consistent and that anyone who denies that is fake news.  Indeed, his behaviour is so erratic that some have even suggested that he would have been replaced by now if he were CEO of any large company.
Given how long other deals to mitigate or reduce barriers to trade – whether tariff or non-tariff – have taken to negotiate, I’m instinctively reluctant to accept that a deal which is good for both parties can be put together as rapidly as the Brexiteer politicians repeatedly tell us.  And knowing how few experienced trade negotiators the UK has only makes me further doubt whether a deal agreed quickly would be in the interest of the UK.
But perhaps that’s the point.  All those countries which are, according to May, lining up to offer quick deals to the UK might indeed, as she seems so willing to accept, be good friends wanting to help us adapt rapidly to the new post-Brexit reality.  But there is another possibility - they could be more like vultures spotting a weak and injured Prime Minister and seeing potential advantage to themselves.  Only time will tell.

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