Bolton Encourages Brexit, Promises Trade Snake Oil

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Trump has always rhetorically supported Britain's exit from the European Union and he even criticized former Prime Minister Theresa May for not getting it done, but as far as I know this is the first time a Trump regime official has formally encouraged and offered to support the United Kingdom after the Brexit.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton is in London today where he reportedly promised that the United States will sign a free trade deal with the United Kingdom.

Bolton also reportedly told British officials that the European Union is 'worse than China.'

A central message Bolton was making is that the United States will help cushion Britain’s exit from the EU with a free trade agreement that is being negotiated by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his British counterpart, Liz Truss. [...]

Trump had wanted to work with the May government on a trade deal but her government “didn’t want do it. This government does. We’re very happy about it,” the official told reporters traveling with Bolton.

Trump believes that “when it comes to trade negotiations the EU is worse than China, only smaller,” the official said.

You know, Trump's fake replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is almost identical to the original deal, was agreed to more than a year ago and still hasn't even been considered by either chamber of Congress. And it probably won't be until at least next year if it ever is.

The idea that the U.S. and Britain could negotiate, sign, and ratify a free trade agreement within the next two or three years (let alone two or three months) is a fantasy but, more importantly, it wouldn't help.

A trade agreement with the U.S. cannot replace free access to the 500 million consumers who call the European Union (EU) home. British industries that export as much as 60 percent of their goods to the EU will not suddenly find a market for those goods in the US. That's not how anything works. You know, I enjoy lamb, but there's not that big of a market for lamb in the United States.

Deep down, officials on both sides of the Atlantic know they're selling their constituents a bill of goods, but happy rhetoric is all they have left to push a Brexit across the finish line.

  • muselet

    I think Reuters buried the lede. This doesn’t show up until paragraphs 10–11:

    After breakfast with British Conservative Party lawmaker Bernard Jenkin, Bolton had lunch with Britain’s cabinet secretary, Mark Sedwill, and also met Johnson. He is due to meet Sajid Javid, the new chancellor of the exchequer, on Tuesday.

    Bolton is expected to urge officials from Johnson’s newly formed, eurosceptic government to align its policy on Iran more along the lines of the United States, which has pushed a much tougher line against Tehran since withdrawing from world powers’ 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran.

    John Bolton doesn’t give a monkey’s about trade or bilateral trade agreements. He doesn’t give a monkey’s about the UK or the EU. He wants his splendid little war with Iran, goddammit, and he’ll get it no matter who he has to bully or lie to.

    Donald Trump knows nothing about trade or the history of the EU. He simply assumes everyone is as venal as he is and is using the possibility of a bilateral deal as leverage. He seems to have decided that wartime presidents tend to be popular and wants the UK to enter Bolton’s war on Iran so he can win a second term.

    Boris Johnson would be a fool to trust the Trump administration. Alas, he has shown time and again that he is indeed a fool.