British politics are more important to the United States then they have ever been in this generation. The upcoming deal between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will determine the relationship that the United States can have with its closest ally in the coming years.
These next few years are essential to President Donald Trump’s foreign policy efforts as he tries to renegotiate America’s economic, military and political position on the world stage. This will demand cooperation from Britain’s end.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May continues to meet with DUP leader Arlene Foster to secure a conservative minority in Parliament, and allow May to continue leading a government. Currently, the 2017 general election in the UK finished in a hung Parliament, which means no party has a majority in the legislative body.
It is important to note that the “Democrat” party in Europe does not correspond with the word or idea of “Democrat” in America. The DUP represents what are seen as conservative values in Northern Ireland, which is why Prime Minister May can consider striking a deal with them. This is not a deal “across the table” as it would be with a party named “Democrat” in the United States.
A deal seems closer than ever, with Foster stating publicly that the discussions with May had gone positively. There are currently no major issues between the Conservative Party and the DUP according to Foster. She actually extended her stay in London in the beginning of June to continue talks, and an agreement was almost made on June 14th. The DUP released a statement during the visit stating that talks were “95% agreed upon.”
However, the agreement seems to have stalled because Conservatives in the U.K. do not want to give North Ireland the level of infrastructure spending that it wants to complete the majority in Parliament. Media hyped the number as £2bn, a number that the Treasury department is obviously loathe to hand over.
There is some public opposition to the agreement coming out of the Conservative Party. John Major, former prime minister, used the media to publicize his view that May should not pursue an agreement with the DUP. He urged May to run the government without the DUP on the grounds that the agreement would stall the fragile peace process that is currently occurring in North Ireland.
A petition online is calling for Theresa May to resign and trash the agreement altogether. This petition has more than 640,000 signatures.
The U.K. has its own politics with Ireland to work out. However, conservatives in the United States should be looking for a deal as soon as possible. The Trump administration is reworking foreign policy in every corner of the globe, with the most important theater definitely including the U.K. and Europe at large.
Before British voters decided to leave the European Union, it was the most important economic entity within the structure, and the United States did business with Europe mostly through the power of this alliance. Without the U.K. in the EU, America may lose a great deal of influence in the region. The relationship between the United States and the newly freed U.K. is now especially important for trade and politics overseas.
Without a conservative fixture in the Parliament, it may be difficult for the Trump administration to conduct business. Traditionally, when the Labour Party [read: liberal party] in the UK controls Parliament, Republicans in the United States have trouble moving money into Europe and agreeing on policy. The Labour Party currently has the second highest number of seats in the Parliament.
America’s economic rivals are making huge strides in the next few years. China continues to exponentially expand the wealth of its private sector. The money of the ultra-rich is moving into wealth hubs overseas like Singapore and Hong Kong. Emerging markets such as India and Brazil are being wooed by Chinese interests, threatening to dilute American hegemony on the American continents as well as across seas.
Now is the time to solidify political relationships with our oldest allies, not further jeopardize our world position by refusing to interact in U.K. politics.
It is rather disturbing that the Trump administration has not given a well publicized public statement on the talks between the DUP and the Conservative Party. There is a lot more riding on this agreement than many people think. If Trump is to successfully renegotiate America’s presence on the world stage, he will need Britain by his side.
~ Liberty Planet