A Phenomenal Trade Deal but with conditions is this what Trump was implying yesterday when discussing trade with Theresa May. Judging from her body language she appears to be cringing when Trump seems to add certain preconditions to his statement along the lines of everything is on the table and everything is negotiable.
What are these preconditions likely to mean for Britain?
Well the way I saw it, and as Theresa May seemed to be interpreting it, it would appear that there would be a ‘Phenomenal Trade Deal’ available to Britain but only if we were willing to accept American conditions which in turn would put America first. It is unlikely that Trump will back down on his commitment to put ‘America First’ because this was the Mantra on which he was elected as President.
Theresa May is most likely cringing because she is aware of Britain’s position after leaving the EU will not be a strong one when Trump mentioned that everything is negotiable she immediately recognised the inequalities of the relative bargaining powers that would exist in such negotiations. Having to grovel to America just smacks of desperation especially as Trump has already recognised the inequalities in the situation and has recognised that he could easily exploit this to his own advantage. Trump is after all a businessman who is probably very acquainted at exploiting similar situations of inequality for his own gain and that is more than likely why he has been so successful. Business is often very ruthless and history has given us many examples where wealth and power has exploited the less powerful. So for Britain to leave the EU without any deal would make us vulnerable to the exploitation of more stable and powerful economies and although Trump did not directly state this, suggesting that everything is negotiable certainly goes along way to actually implying it. So we must ask ourselves who will this ‘phenomenal trade deal’ actually benefit? Will it be mutually beneficial to both sides or an unequal deal?
Phenomenal Trade Deal but for who?
Trump knows full well that he could more or less dictate terms and conditions of any Trade Deal with Britain because it would be taken as a given that Britain would not be in a strong bargaining position post leaving the EU, so therefore we would have the weaker hand in any negotiations so the situation would be to Trump’s advantage. Negotiating a deal with the UK that is more favourable to America would certainly gain Trump the kudos that he craves and would reinforce his commitment to his mantra ‘America First‘ I would have no doubt that he would be willing exploit such an advantage to the detriment of the UK. And I see so no reason to doubt that he would not put ‘America first’ in any trade negotiations with the UK. So the reality of this claim of a ‘Phenomenal Trade Deal’ that would await Britain upon departure from the EU is nothing more than smoke and gas.
After departing the EU, Britain will not be in a particularly strong bargaining position so the notion of any ‘Phenomenal Trade Deal’ with countries like America will more likely come at a price that will be imbalanced in favour of the strongest. So any promises of a ‘phenomenal trade deal’ should not be taken at face value. Trump is after all a salesman and is likely to be using his skills as a salesman to be ‘bigging up the deal’ to make us believe that we would be getting something better than we actually are. He is probably just telling us we would be getting a limo that probably just turns out to be a jalopy. That is just business, which for the most part is exploitative: Trump is not necessarily meaning an equal partnership.
Interestingly shortly following this revelation the EU released a statement of intent to end negotiations on 31/10/19 with either acceptance of a deal or to end negotiations with no deal at all. This leaves Britain well and truly backed into a corner. The EU immediately saw these preconditions that Trump seemingly implying as a threat or a bullying tactic and so did Theresa May and they have used it to basically say to us there are just 2 options now available so take the least damaging one which may prove to be the one from the EU because when we leave we may find ourselves in an inequitable partnership with the Americans and find out that the ‘Phenomenal Trade Deal’ promised by Trump turn out to be just hot air after all. The EU also saw this as an opportunity to hang up the threat of a ‘no deal scenario’ over our heads because they know that if Britain is forced into negotiations with the like of Trump it would be even more detrimental and weakening for the UK to be entering into these negotiations without any back up deal in place with the EU. This would be utter desperation which Trump could draw more advantage from. The EU are basically pushing their case hard to make us try and realise the implications to ourselves of a a no-deal scenario.
As we enter into a leadership battle for the next Prime Minister to take over from Theresa May, this is basically a warning shot from the EU to say you had better be careful who you choose, so choose wisely because a hard line Brexiteer intent upon leaving the EU at whatever cost such as a ‘no deal’ would have massive and severe implications for the UK. It would weaken our bargaining position with the rest of the world and in particular with Trump and the Americans.
Does this ‘phenomenal trade deal’ threaten our sovereignty?
One final word of caution about this so called ‘phenomenal trade deal’. Many of the motivations for leaving the EU in the first place have been based upon Britain being autonomous: regaining the power to make it’s own decisions. Trade negotiations with Trump even though they might appear to represent or be presented to us as a ‘phenomenal trade deal‘ may come at the price of this hard fought for autonomy. Our sovereignty may be at stake making pacts with the devil. Inequality in our ability to negotiate with Trump could result in threats to our abilities to manage our service industries such as the NHS. I believe there was some reference to the NHS in the Trump declaration yesterday which seemed to make Theresa May look uncomfortable. The NHS may become fair game, or a casualty in the ‘phenomenal trade deal’ seemingly on the table. It seems that the NHS may be something he is targeting in his sights.