‘Called upon to give the roar’: What the U.S. thinks of our new PM
Republicans in the U.S. have so far given the new PM a positive reception as the two countries seek a future trade deal.
The New York born Boris Johnson sees close ties to the Trump administration as a crucial part of the U.K.’s post-Brexit future. A huge aspect of this is utilising a potential new Anglo-American trade agreement to aid Britain’s recovery from a degree of inevitable trade disruption as the country leaves the EU.
U.S. enthusiasm for a new British trade deal seems to be differing along party lines. Johnson’s somewhat reckless plans involving a no deal and the potential repercussion of a hard border in Ireland, for example, have provoked criticism from Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
She is particularly irritated by the fact that blame for problems created by British administrations seem to be consistently laid at Leo Varadkar’s doorstep. Blame also, obviously, apparently lies with Brussels and Saltsburg also, despite the British people being the ones who voted to create this disruption in the first place.
This political chutzpah is justified since the party won back the House of Representatives in 2018. They therefore have a larger say in the conditions of a potential deal, and Pelosi has been clear when stating that any deal would be blocked by democrats in the house if it threatened Irish peace.
The Irish American lobby – a crucial part of the Democratic machine – will prove crucial in this budding political tussle, and the Irish border issue could prove to be an extremely passionate one, as many Americans are descended from Irish immigrants.
The efforts of senators, congressmen and congresswomen will be aided by Democrats outside of Congress. A bipartisan committee has been set up, the aim of which is to protect the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Ireland.
Be that as it may, President Trump has expectantly proved to be more eager. Since Theresa May announced her resignation, he has proclaimed his disapproval of her handling of Brexit, revealed how he is glad Johnson triumphed in the Tory leadership election, announced his personal affection for him, and expressed a willingness to begin negotiations to construct ‘a very substantial trade deal’ through which we can do ‘three, four, five times what we’re doing’.
Moreover, 45 Republican senators – including James Risch (chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and Richard Burr (chair of the Intelligence Committee) – have recently signed an open letter to Boris, pledging their support for a British trade deal regardless of whether he achieves a deal with Brussels. One of them, Senator Tom Cotton, sprinkled some diplomatic and Johnson pleasing remarks comparing the PM to his idol Churchill. He urged Johnson to ‘roar’ for Britain as Churchill did during the Second World War.
It seems that republicans in Washington are pleased to witness the government across the pond embracing a similar brand of popular nationalism as the POTUS’ team has promoted throughout his election and tenure. Victory of the Leave campaign in 2016 was, of course, a source of inspiration for Trump’s own winning campaign.
British military chiefs will also be pleased to hear that leading republicans have vowed to maintain the U.S.’ relationship with NATO, as well as the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance. This involves the co-operation of intelligence services in the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
These issues would have been discussed on the two phone conversations in which Johnson and Trump have already engaged in, and the new PM is reportedly very keen to fly to the Whitehouse and establish these enthusiastic Trump/Johnson relations in person.
Opinion of Johnson is equally varied amongst the U.S public, as American politics also proves to be immensely polarised. Some know him as ‘one of the Brexiteer guys’, some have no idea. One man even remarked – in a video filmed in New York on the Independent’s website – that ‘he is the same thing as Trump, so he’s like human garbage. He has terrible hair and he’s an idiot’.
Another man suggested that he was ‘much more concerned about himself and his own brand, his own image than about the country he’s going to allegedly represent’. A lady on a bench seemed to echo the President’s own assessment of the PM as ‘Britain Trump’ by suggesting that ‘he is probably like the UK version of Trump’. However, she deviated from this by adding that he was ‘probably not as bad’.
Given the political stance of the Independent and the location in which these opinions were recorded, it is not surprising that they all seemed to possess a low opinion of Johnson and Trump. There will, of course, definitely be other Americans who are more susceptible to protectionist, chauvinistic discourse and – like Donald – will be happy that the UK now has what they perceive to be its own version of Trump.
The case has proven to be the same back on home turf, with a divided and uncompromising public political conversation providing those who ‘back Boris’ and those who are incredibly pessimistic, even afraid of what a Johnson premiership is yet to bring.