Every other year, I always take a big trip somewhere around the world. This fall, I’m excited to be traveling to England, Ireland, and Scotland for the first time.
As I prepare for my trip, the UK is in the midst of great political turmoil – perhaps more than the US these days.
Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to step down after failing to get her deal for a “Brexit” with the European Union through Parliament by the original deadline. She was forced to seek an extension of the deadline until October 31.
Meanwhile, the ruling Conservative Party just went through a long election to determine who the next leader of the party would be – effectively choosing the next Prime Minister. Former London Mayor and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was elected, though won’t get much of a honeymoon as he faces big decisions almost immediately.
So, what exactly will Brexit mean for the US?
I recently had the chance to interview Daniel Hannan for PRI’s “Next Round” podcast (you can listen to the interview here). He is a member of the European Parliament (at least until Brexit occurs) and one of the few Conservatives to retain their seats in the recent elections for the European parliament.
When asked why the UK was so intent on leaving, he said that, “the European Union is not just a club of nations. It’s not just a trade association. It’s not just a mechanism for neighboring countries to do things together . . . The problem was that the European Union didn’t see itself as an association of states at all. It wanted to become a country called Europe.”
Leaving the European Union is a very complex task. Prime Minister May’s government has tried in vain to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal in a way that would be supported by both Parliament and the other nations of Europe. We asked Hannan why a deal has proved elusive, and he said is was May’s negotiating position that doomed an agreement from the start.
“Initially, the talks were going reasonably well. But what changed was that there was a general election in 2017 and from then on there was a majority in Parliament against leaving at all. And MP’s started saying quite openly to the EU, we will only leave on terms that you lay down. So, of course, the EU naturally started upping its demands,” he said.
Some argue that leaving the European Union without a negotiated deal would be a catastrophe for the economy and a whole host of common policies – such as trade, immigration, and travel. But that’s exactly what the country could be facing under new Prime Minister Johnson. During his leadership campaign, he promised to leave the European Union in October, “come what may, do or die.”
Despite the lack of a deal to date, Hannan argues that Brexit offers the potential for even stronger ties between the US and the UK, especially on trade.
“We have a really vast planetary opportunity to say we are going to do a completely different kind of trade where we just to agree to recognize each other’s jurisdictions. If something is legal in your country, it’s legal in ours, and vice versa. Think of how that would open up the cartels, push down the regulations, cut taxes, it would be the most fantastic thing,” he told us.
A favorable US-UK deal seems increasingly likely now that Trump and his friend Johnson will be the ones engaging in the “art of the deal.”
Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.