UK government may fear a Biden victory will endanger ‘special relationship’
By Ricky Browne
With less than a week to go for the US presidential elections and with Joe Biden ahead in the polls by what appears to be an unattainable lead of about eight points, Democrats are looking forward to a great victory over Donald Trump… much as they did in 2016.
This time four years ago, Hillary Clinton was ahead by 14 points, but although winning about three million more votes than Donald Trump, she lost the election thanks to losing the electoral college.
But this time around, much of the media assures us, is different. And this time Biden is going to win convincingly, not just the popular vote but the electoral college as well.
All the major British TV channels with news programmes — such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky — are currently in the United States covering this election, which looks like it will see a larger percentage turnout than for any election since the early 1900s.
Many of them interview prospective voters. One Republican voter interviewed was a virtually toothless, energetic old white lady — what teeth she had left did not appear to be healthy specimens. The lady was poorly dressed, was inarticulate and had a heavy accent suggesting that she was not well educated — basically a stereotypical image of a hillbilly, straight out of the Appalachians She looked like she was on the bottom of her luck.
But she was a strong Trump supporter and was going to vote for him because “he will make America great again,” she said.
This, it appears, is the kind of person that the news programmes would like viewers to think is a typical Trump voter.
Few similar people have been interviewed as supporters for Biden, if any at all. In contrast, Biden supporters — at least according to the TV news — seem to be mainly black, articulate and well reasoned.
Interestingly, while the programmes can find (a few) supporters of Trump, they seem to find very few supporters of Biden. Democrat voters seem to be eager to vote out Trump, not vote for Biden. Its almost as if they would vote for anyone on the Democratic ticket, and though a little disappointed that Biden does not have the charisma or star appeal of a Barack Obama, they will go out, stand for hours in long lines at the polling stations and proudly do their duty to get rid of the present commander-in-chief who they simply cannot stand.
But if those British news programmes would like to find an articulate, well educated supporter of Trump, they shouldn’t have to go any further than Whitehall, where it is very likely that the government is holding its breath in the hope that Trump will once again pull a rabbit out of a hat and win this thing.
There are two main reasons for this. One is that the Government wants Donald Trump to win so as to make a good trade deal. The other is they fear what may happen to Britain if Joe Biden is elected the next president.
Right now the Conservative government has an ally in Donald Trump. The President appears to be an Anglophile. He gave his support to Brexit, even before the vote, at a time when President Obama warned that a vote to leave the European Union could endanger Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, and that they would have to get to the ‘back of the queue’.
Trump owns a golf course in Scotland — where his mother came from — and he perhaps could have the right to British citizenship, given that his mother was British. In fact he was even planning to open a second 18-hole golf course which would be named after his mother Mary Anne MacLeod, who was born and grew up on the Scottish island of Lewis before she emigrated to New York and married Trump’s father.
But even if he doesn’t have the right to UK citizenship, it is likely that Trump identifies with Britain on some level, and may even feel himself to be part British.
And as Britain prepares to end its transition period with the EU and to possibly venture out with nothing but an Australia-stlye trade agreement (meaning no trade agreement), the government is desperate to have a quick and favourable trade deal with the US. Such an agreement would not only help to lessen the pain of no longer being able to trade tariff-free with its largest market, but would also set the basis for creating other trade deals with other countries and trading blocs.
A lot is hanging on such an agreement, as without it the UK will have a much weaker hand when negotiating with other countries.
So with Trump, the UK has a president who is ally, a bit of an Anglophile, and someone who supports Brexit. True he may act a little crazy sometimes, and walk ahead of the Queen when on a state visit, but one can’t have everything.
But Biden is another kettle of fish.
First off, Biden identifies himself as an Irish-American Catholic — not a group that is known for its warmth towards the English or the UK by extension.
His party has already made the UK know that there will be a high price to pay if in its negotiations with the EU it does not stick to previous agreements on Northern Ireland.
In fact, while the UK tries to negotiate for the best deal it can get with the EU, Biden has reportedly already warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the UK can forget about any kind of trade deal with the US, if it undermines the Good Friday peace deal.
“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit. Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period,” Biden said in September.
Biden previously let his opinion of Johnson be known, when he described him to an Irish audience as a Trump ‘clone’.
Additionally, the Conservative government has reportedly made approaches to the Biden team but has been rebuffed. So it can get no assurances of how the ‘special relationship’ will progress under a Biden administration.
So with no EU-trade agreement in sight, and the likelihood that Britain may decide it needs to act differently on the Northern Ireland issue, a pro-Irish, anti-Johnson President may not be the best thing to happen to the UK.
On the other hand, with all the trauma of ending free-trade with the EU, plus the coronavirus epidemic and the economic fallout, maybe no one will notice.
And maybe, just maybe, Trump will beat the polls again and win a second term, giving the UK government its best chance of achieving a decent free trade agreement with the largest market on Earth.
Meanwhile, if the media does look for an articulate Trump supporter, although they may well exist at Whitehall, it is unlikely that anyone will risk expressing that view until well after November 3rd.