It’s said that the US-UK relationship is an “all-season friendship”. The two countries have been closely intertwined for 235 years. From World War II to the Iraq War, the two allies led the wars together. During WWII, their relationship promoted to ‘special relationship’ & they have been honouring this ‘special relationship’ for many years. Due to their historical, diplomatic, political, economic, military & traditional similarities, the two partners never had a chance to be separated. But the recent US election has created a situation that could have an impact on British-American relations.
We all know that Joe Biden gained a landslide victory against Donald Trump in the 2020 US election. Though Biden’s triumph is a sigh of relief for democratic supporters worldwide, it’s also misery for populist leaders. And the one who will suffer the most during Biden’s reign is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He’s now worried about losing an important ally like Trump. For many years, Boris has been following Trump’s political model to consolidate power. He’s completely obsessed with ‘Trumpism’. Like Trump, he’s also embraced with anti-immigration, anti-Islam, ultranationalism, conservatism & right-wing ideology. Trump calls Boris ‘Trump of Britain’ for adhering to Trump’s right-wing populism. That’s why Trump provided Boris all the benefits, including political & economical.
Trump has been praising Boris’s role in the Brexit issue for a long time. Even from the beginning of the Brexit issue, Trump has indicated the EU as an ‘ineffective’ one. Moreover, the rise of Trump in 2015 was stimulating populist politicians like Boris Johnson. Trump’s conservative role inspired Boris so much that, like Trump, Boris didn’t shy away from creating divisions among the British. Anti-immigration, anti-Islam & anti-EU propaganda were deployed so that the British ruled in favour of Brexit. It was a massive victory for the Western populists. Boris gradually became Trump’s confidant because of his leadership from the front on the Brexit issue.
Besides, the British had been complaining for many years that they had no importance in the EU. In particular, the EU’s economic & trade policy was against British interests. So Trump administration strengthened trade relations with the UK to make the USA more significant than the EU. Even when Boris was elected UK’s Prime Minister in 2019, Trump extended trade benefits to the UK. According to a 2019 estimate, the amount of investment between UK & US was 852 million USD whereas it was 500 million USD in 2018. In other words, the amount of investment increased one & a half times in one year. So it’s certain that Trump’s UK-policy was entirely business-oriented.
But president-elect Biden has already hinted that the UK-policy won’t be business-oriented. He’s not even in favour of giving all kinds of trade facilities to the UK. He has warned the UK about the prospect of a preliminary agreement with the USA. He said, “The USA is not going to engage any new trade agreement with the UK & anyone. We’ve to emphasize internal investment for our workers”. So it’s clear that Biden wants to focus on internal development instead of a trade deal.
Besides, Biden is emphasizing on Britain’s separation through the agreement on the Brexit issue. He warned Britain directly that he won’t tolerate any action that harms the EU’s interests. Biden has another reason to warn Britain & that’s Boris’s attempt to leave the EU without any agreement. Trump also prompted Boris to leave the EU without any deal with the EU. But president-elect Biden has made it clear that he won’t concede Britain’s attempt to walk-off the EU without any agreement.
As we know that Britain officially left the EU on 31st January 2020, they entered into an 11-month transition period. The UK has to accomplish all treaties before 31st December 2020. If Brexit is implemented without any deal, the EU’s post-Brexit relations with Britain could be destabilized. This could hurt the diplomatic relations between Britain & the EU. Besides, 3 million EU immigrants in the UK could be threatened.
Furthermore, both Biden & EU policymakers also concentrate on ‘Good Friday Agreement’. If Brexit becomes effective without any deal, Boris administration could create a border between the Independent Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland (a part of Britain). Boris Johnson is so desperate to construct a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland by refusing the ‘Good Friday Agreement’. As a result, people in both parts of Ireland will lose their freedom of movement. However, Biden has made it certain that deterioration in the UK-US relationship could occur in the post-Brexit period if a no-deal outcome undermines the ‘Good Friday Agreement’. As an American of Irish descent, Biden won’t tolerate UK’s breach of ‘Good Friday Agreement’ in any way.
The UK’s biggest concern is Biden’s probable Europe-policy, which could benefit the EU by disregarding the UK. Because Biden’s policy of internationalism is the complete opposition of Boris’s conservative approach. EU leaders are optimistic about Biden’s future cooperation on economic, trade, technological & climate change issues. Needless to say, the relations between the EU & USA will be great trouble for Boris. Britain is truly alone in losing allies like the USA & the EU.
Although the Brexit issue has been a blessing for Boris, it has also become a nightmare. He was politically successful in spreading anti-nationalism & anti-immigration sentiment among the British. Still, these types of strategies are likely to be ineffective because Boris Johnson will have to face many challenges in the future.
The first challenge is to restore Britain’s economy. We know that British Pound has been devaluing since the Brexit election. Economic growth is also declining day by day. Moreover, the UK’s economy has suffered severely amid the pandemic outbreak.
Besides, the fall in the value of the Pound has also an impact on US-UK trade relations.
At the same time, British people will be deprived of everything in the EU, including science, technology, employment & youth opportunities.
Moreover, Britain will have to pay 30 billion pounds in compensation to the EU which is a great burden for Great Britain.
However, it’s worth noting that Biden’s personal conflict with Boris is also widespread. Boris’s hostile relations with the Democrats is not unknown. Besides, Biden has never forgotten Boris’s remarks about Obama’s “part-Kenyan heritage” & designated Obama’s ancestors’ as the ‘hater of British Empire’. Biden was still Obama’s vice-president. So it’s high time for Biden to take revenge on Boris for his racist behaviour. Additionally, Biden’s Irish roots could shape his foreign policy on Brexit. If Biden implements that, it would be great trouble for Johnson’s Britain.
So UK’s good relations with the US depend on UK’s negotiations with the EU. In particular, Biden will focus on Britain’s agreement with EU on the Brexit Issue & ‘Good Friday Agreement’. In this way, Washington-London relations may take a new turn in future.