Whoever wins, forget the ‘special relationship’


Whoever wins, forget the ‘special relationship’

The policy outlooks of both Presidential candidates mean that regardless of the outcome of today’s vote, the special relationship between the US and UK is set for testing times ahead, says Rory Broomfield.

Does the UK still have a special relationship with the US? Maybe. But whoever is elected US President will pose real challenges for the UK and its relationship with the US over the next four years.

“Billary” or “the Donald” – America chooses its next President today.  Whatever you think of them as personalities, their policy outlooks are worrying for anything that might resemble a special relationship between the US and the UK.

Let’s take Clinton. I think it’s obvious: she opposed Brexit and a trade deal between the UK and the US, her establishment / statist focus means she favours dealing with the EU and she had her officials all but say the UK should remain in the EU when she was Secretary of State. With the UK leaving the EU (hopefully soon), the US should be right up there on Liam Fox’s “deal list”. But it’s almost certain that Clinton will wish to prioritise the EU, over the UK, much to Germany’s joy and the UK’s annoyance.

For Trump, there are also challenges. Rod Liddle thinks that he will be better for Britain. I’m unsure. He’s supposedly a big fan of Brexit (or so I’m told) and wants to make America Great Again. Though, by tearing up NAFTA and putting the mutual defence clause in NATO at risk, he puts the UK on the backfoot.


The UK wants to leave the EU and chart a free trade future. This is the start of a great opportunity that the UK has to make deals which reach double the value of the EU’s agreements. However, Trump’s desire to “tear up NAFTA” might very well herald a new protectionist trend between the US and other nations – even its friendliest allies like Canada and, in time, the UK.

If this is transferred onto the world stage – affecting in a protectionist way trade between other states – capitalism is in trouble.

If a Trump presidency heralds this then in the first instance the post-NAFTA arrangements will be, to coin a phrase, “front of the queue” while the UK will have to wait its turn.

Further, let’s face it: China, Mexico and Russia will also be higher on the list of priorities than the UK. Trump has made no secret of his “love” – or supposed deal making prowess – with China, he wants to “build a wall” on the border with Mexico and, given his policies concerning NATO, Russia will be a ongoing, growing and possibly even immediate priority.

But the second, and arguably the most worrying aspect of his policy agenda from the UK’s perspective, is Trump’s desire to undermine NATO.

NATO is the cornerstone of Western defence relations. It has helped to ensure peace in Europe since its creation. If the US doesn’t respect it then it will go the way of the League of Nations – and the consequences for Europe – especially Eastern Europe – could be dire. It would make the UK’s role in Europe more difficult; it would make the UK’s negotiations with the EU even more problematic.

With all of that though, we need to remember that the UK’s relationship with the US is strong – and that Brexit can make the relationship stronger (if done correctly).

I’m no supporter of either Trump or Clinton but we should remember that our two nations have common ground in so many areas that can be built on. Whether it be finance, defence, diplomatic links or the law, whoever becomes US President I hope our Prime Minister, Theresa May, keeps the door widely open for her administration, and subsequent ones, to build on what we have with the US.

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  • Rory Broomfield
    Rory Broomfield
    Rory Broomfield is Director of The Freedom Association and the Better Off Out campaign. He is an authority on the EU and has written a number of books including his latest, co-authored with Iain Murray, Cutting the Gordian Knot: A Roadmap for British Exit from the European Union. He has previously worked in the City of London and in Westminster for a number of Members of Parliament, including the current Prime Minister, Theresa May; the current Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady; and Sir Richard Shepherd.
    • A Lefty take – at least two people have to my knowledge taken it at face value – on the Trump victory is provided in my latest Blog, snappily titled as ever, “The Election of That Far-Right Neoliberal Racist Fascist, The Widely-Hated Trump, Is Literally The Biggest Disaster To Hit The World – And Indeed Elsewhere – Since The Hate Vote For Hard-Right Brexit In June, Friends!”, which is literally available, literally here:


    • Raddiy

      Are you an expert Rory?

    • Mojo

      As far as I am aware we do not have a special relationship with USA. They call on us when they need a respected voice to push their policies worldwide. And we more often than not, oblige, regardless of the mess it creates. UK governments should learn to stand for UK interests. Build friendships with Russia, whom historically have always supported us in our hour of need, and stop pushing the USA aggressive agenda. My belief being Donald Trump will have more in common with Theresa May than we are led to believe. However Churchill talked about the special relationship in his wooing of USA to help us during WWII, because let us not forget, that America did not want to be involved in war until Pearl Harbour was bombed!!!! Churchill did not necessarily believe we had anything special other than a willingness to fight evil at that time and America had the military power to help us. It is successive governments who have pushed the myth to cover up their own inadequacies to put the British people first.

    • WuffoTheWonderDog

      What special relationship? When was there ever a special relationship? There certainly wasn’t one during WW2. We paid top dollar, with dollars that we borrowed at a very high rate of interest, for every ship, gun, plane, bullet, grain of rice, gallon of oil, bag of coal, that we received during the last war. We stopped paying the last of that debt in the early 1990s. Did America charge France, Italy or Russia for its military armaments?

      The special relationship was created and maintained as a pension fund for the Churchill family to milk, just as Blair is now milking it on the back of his dragging us into an illegal war in Iraq and Afghanistan with GW Bush.

      • humourme

        Reagan backed Thatcher during the Falklands – along with Haig. The State Department tried to knife the UK in the back. Otherwise it’s all been pretty one way. Special relationship is nonsense most of the time.

    • digitaurus

      The US hasn’t recognised any special relationship between the UK and USA since shortly after WW2. Leaving the EU will change the calculation slightly but will probably on balance lower our relevance still further. From a military perspective, the UK was held in good regard by the US armed forces until we screwed up so badly in Iraq (Basra) and Afghanistan (Helmund). We still retain some status as a member of the 5-eyes intelligence consortium, mainly because they can use us to circumvent some of the spying restrictions imposed by Congress. Listening to people like Boris Johnson prattling on about the ‘special relationship’ makes me wonder what planet he’s on.

    • thumper_the_rabbit

      What special relationship? The one that means the U.S. demands and we supply, but not the other way round?

    • ratcatcher11

      Britain will return to it’s roots, becoming a global trading nation once again and especially promoting trade within the Commonwealth which will come to mean something once again, especially for black Africa which will have the chance to trade on an equal basis and not have the EU farming surplus dumped on them, causing misery for African farmers. This change in emphasis will benefit Africa and the EU will be forced to bring in reforms to its own practises to reverse the catastrophic decline in its portion of world trade which will have shrunk by about 45% by 2020.

    • ScaryBiscuits

      Russia’s economy is about the same size as Italy’s. Why does it need NATO to oppose it, when almost any EU country on its own would be enough as long as we invested properly in our own defence?
      NATO made sense when we were opposing an empire but it has long since become an impediment to Western Security. Like the EU, it zombies on regardless of its own irrelevance to modern problems.
      Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, no Western government has taken it seriously and many never did. At the same time from Russia’s perspective, it is a symbol of Cold War hostility (and we should remember that European powers repeatedly brutally invaded Russia in the previous centuries). Many Russians have come to the conclusion if that if we continue to gang up on them as though the Soviet Union is still in existence they might as well start to rebuild it, especially when NATO seems incapable of delivering on its promises and hasn’t been since the British and American armies departed from central Germany. NATO’s main contribution to world peace wasn’t actually opposing Russia anyway but occupying Germany, a country who’s problematic attitude to its ‘partners’ in Europe is once again at the core of the Continent’s economic and migration crises.

    • Stuart Beaker

      If there is a special relationship, it is one of pooled self-interest, facilitated by a perceived cultural common-ground which is far from all-encompassing, but is sufficient to give it psychological power. If anything has undermined that relationship, it is the competing globalisms of the Left tendencies in the US and the erstwhile EU-dominated UK. Far from being a gateway to Europe, it has meant the UK being up till now a prisoner of a distinctly ambitious and fundamentally undemocratic EU technocracy. Perhaps now we can clear ourselves of the debris and start again, at least if it’s Trump.

    • Ominous

      America’s special relationship is with Saudi Arabia. The Americans have facilitated the spread of Wahhabi Islam for geopolitical reasons which has been disastrous for Europe and ourselves. American military operations in the Middle East are about propping up the dollar monetary system. The demise of NATO and any military alliance with the U.S. is a good thing. We need to rebuild our military and heavy industries becoming non-aligned will force us to do that.

    • Stuart Beaker

      I thought the UK was the only NATO nation that paid its dues, apart from the US – am I wrong? I assumed that if anyone was undermining NATO it was those partners that simply didn’t think it worth abiding by their treaty obligations, not the US, which has subsidised the running of it for a long time.

    • TRAV1S

      The only thing ‘Special’ about the relationship is that they have military bases here, but we don’t have bases there.

    • Philip Meikle

      Current Special Relationship = Do what we are told. If Trump wants to work with us as Allies surely that is a bonus? We should be concentrating on our special relationship with our commonwealth.

    • Bosanova

      Let’s be happy with the reality of a relationship of mutual interest. Both Blair and Obama have amply demonstrated how “special” the relationship really is.
      On NATO I believe Trump is sabre rattling for a better deal for the US. Currently NATO IS the US, everyone else is just along for the ride – especially when it comes to defence spending. This justifiably riles the Americans. Defence spending is necessary, but unfortunately it is spending that is economically unproductive (excluding jobs created, but they could be created elsewhere too). So given defence spending is a necessary evil, if I was an American, I’d want the load to be more fairly spread at a time when every country is trying to get its economy back on track. That’ll be a tough pill for the beleagured EU to swallow – we live in interesting times.

    • There never was one.

    • Roanoake

      Trump isn’t undermining NATO, he’s concentrating minds wonderfully that previously took US involvement in NATO for granted.

      • geo

        most of the eu countries in nato/otan have armed forces that are almost useless. the germans lack the will after decades of guilt, french kit is falling apart, spending across the eu states is totally inadequate and their focus is inward ie the fear of their own citizens lynching muslims after an atrocity. the eu army policy is simply a smokescreen to cover up what putin knows … the eu is a rotten apple and without the UK and the US its a complete fraud … not that the UK is much better with its policy of using defense spending to prop up failing businesses ie bae or to state fund employment.

      • Dacorum

        I agree. As I recall Trump said something to the effect that NATO countries can only rely on US support if they keep to NATO rules and spend the agreed minimum percentage of GDP on defence. What is wrong with that?

        Anyone who attacks Trump’s policies on NATO is undermining NATO by supporting freeloaders.

      • Bosanova

        Quite. Freloading NATO members are in for a rude awakening.

    • Ravenscar

      Britain has no ‘special relationship’ with the USA, what is good for
      Britain is not necessarily so for the USA and therefore as should have
      always been the case, surely we do and must cooperate on areas of mutual
      interest and to all other intents, we are associated but not joined at
      the hip.
      Indeed, splendid isolation, defending our interests – building
      up our own Navy again but always beneficial trade and commerce with the
      world – all of that is in Britain’s sole interest.

      Businesses trade, people trade and only the corporate blob require the straitjacket of ‘trade agreement’s cemented in supranational laws and red tape’ this makes it that much harder for the little guy. Mr. Trump understands that instinctively. Irrespective of NAFTA, America can trade with the world by using WTO rules and btw there is no need of Britain rushing into any trade deal with the USA we’ve been happily trading with each other even when we’ve been warring agin each other: business is business.

      Whereas, Clinton is an impending cluster**k, an argument waiting to happen, a liberal interventionist and Internationalist; ‘something must be done – democracy for the Arabs’ fulminating agitator that she has always been.

      Along with, the nutters strategists in the Pentagon gunning for Vladimir Putin, the arms sellers at ease now that Obarmy has shuffled away will be cheering and hoping to increasing their corporate muscle bulk all over the Gulf [and back to Syria go the arms]. A saudi ‘friend’ is she with Clinton as commander in chief – it is going to get hot in Syria – as the Pentagon so desires it, though Israel might be on the White House hot line about that – taking on Bashar al Assad and by extension Putin in the Levant – is not Israel’s preferred option.

      Britain, needs full sovereignty, requires nay demands to step away from EUrope but also, to be far more picky about her own interests – freedom means individualism: that’s the only way.

    • Chris Torey

      What special relationship? they only want a special relationship when it’s in their self interest.

      • Ben Abelly

        Soooo, just like you.

        • Chris Torey

          So you think I’m a Tory because of my name! by your logic that makes you a big fat gut.

          • Ben Abelly

            I didn’t even look at you name, sorry genius. You made an asinine statement moron. Every country looks out for itself first, stupid. If you don’t know that you’re a bigger moron than I thought. Have a good day, idiot.

            • Chris Torey

              Do you think Britain looks out for itself first, you are the moron.

    • gs_schweik

      Rubbish. Trump has focussed on the UK many times. He knows we’re here and is keen to have us as an ally.
      He knows his history too, and I reckon BoJo & him will get on famously.

      • Chris Torey

        Just in case you don’t know, Trump isn’t president yet so I was obviously commenting on previous occupants of the white house.

        Is that too difficult for you to grasp?

        • gs_schweik

          Morning Rory/Torey. He is now, petal.

        • gs_schweik

          So you are Rory Broomfield? Why the pseudonym? And why the unpleasant sarcasm?

          • WuffoTheWonderDog

            This Torey creature is an angry little fellow, isn’t he?
            Such bad manners. A real lack of potty training.
            He’ll bring it to an end soon by mentioning the Austrian corporal.

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