God Bless America
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BY TIM DAWSON
We are too squeamish about praising our friends across the pond.
Remainers may want to pretend the EU is the greatest force for peace and prosperity the world has ever seen. But I’m afraid that’s not true. That would be America, Britain and the wider anglosphere.
I am unashamed of my love for America. It stirs me in a way the EU project never can. I still remember the first time I went to New York… the yellow cabs, the hustle and bustle, the Italian Americans selling pretzels on the sidewalk. It was like living in a movie – as were the three months I once spent in Los Angeles. It, of course, has its problems, as all countries do – but it is a vast, verdant, extraordinary country which stands as a beacon of freedom and democracy (and I can’t help noticing how easily it transfers power between Presidents; nobody serious called for a re-run in 2016).
It is not necessary to like Donald Trump in order to be in favour of maintaining and deepening our friendship with America. It is also wildly counterproductive to keep criticising him. Too many of our politicians – particularly on the opposition benches – have forgotten where our real interests actually lie. Constantly criticising a President who will certainly be in the White House for another 18 months, and may be there for another 5 and a half years, is not in the interests of either Britain, or the West in general. There is a lot to be gained by engaging constructively with this administration. There is nothing to be gained by wilfully alienating the US. The British government should ignore the twitter woke. There is real politics to be done.
It is fashionable in the UK to pretend, somehow, Hillary Clinton would have been a better option. Not for the UK. Not now. The unpredictable nature of the US President – and his obvious antipathy to the EU – is clearly to our advantage as we set about, finally, extricating ourselves from the anti-democratic train-wreck in Brussels. The EU is heavily reliant on both our countries; in fact, it categorically needs us for its continued defence and security. Sure, we’d all rather things stay friendly – but, as we go down to the wire on Brexit, remembering how essential the UK and the US’s co-operation is to our European friends and allies seems wise.
There is also a lot of unnecessary confusion and panic about the prospect of a UK / US Free Trade Agreement. This will not lead to the privatisation of the NHS (I mean, seriously – by what mechanism?) and it does not mean we will all be force fed chlorinated chicken three times a day. It does mean: more wealth, more choice, more jobs, more opportunity, more innovation. As Victoria Hewson recently explained, a free trade agreement is not a matter of wins and losses – it is, if you believe in free trade and free markets, a win/win for all parties.
Trump’s administration understands this, which is why it is explicitly open to non-controversial sector-by-sector deals. There is no downside to either country in swiftly expediting these agreements. They simply make us both richer. Nobody loses, everybody gains.
We should be equally open to fast-tracking deals with the rest of the world. Remainers sneer at the thought we may do an FTA with New Zealand, for example – because of the relative sizes of our populations and economies. That is not the way to look at it. Again, it is win/win – and, unlike our current relationship with the EU, doesn’t require any level of political integration.
The irony is that we are already deeply integrated with the US. 1 million Brits work for American companies; 1 million Americans work for British companies. Our security co-operation is, quite literally, second to none.
The United State will fully expect us to defend our corner if a proposed agreement explicitly disadvantages us. Just as we would expect that of them. But, as things stand, the cold, hard benefits for both sides massively outweigh any losses – and are both politically and economically advantageous to both parties.
Give me the United States over the EU any day. And let us respect their political choices in a way that EU-fanatics both on the continent and at home, sadly, refuse to respect ours.
Tim Dawson is a writer and journalist and the Editor of Free Market Conservatives. Follow him on twitter: @tim_r_dawson