EU relieved but wary after Trump endorses it as 'wonderful'


#1

uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-eu-idUKKBN1631PN

**EU relieved but wary after Trump endorses it as ‘wonderful’

When Donald Trump called the European Union “wonderful” and said he was “totally in favour of it”, some Brussels officials feared the headline was a hoax, given the U.S. president’s earlier apparent disdain for the bloc.

Trump’s remarks in an interview with Reuters late on Thursday appeared to contrast sharply with comments he made last month when he labelled the EU a “vehicle for Germany”, called Brexit a “great thing” and said more countries would follow Britain out of the bloc. European diplomats were quick to credit Vice President Mike Pence with persuading his boss of the Union’s merits…Officials said it was unclear, however, if Trump’s policies would match the pro-EU language which Pence used on Monday or that of White House strategist Steve Bannon, whose scepticism about the bloc had been reflected in Trump’s earlier comments…

In the Reuters interview, Trump delivered a conciliatory message. When asked if he supported the European Union as a governing body for the continent, he said: “I do, sure … The EU, I’m totally in favour of it. I think it’s wonderful, if they’re happy. If they’re happy, I’m in favour of it.”

“Pence 1, Bannon 0 - at the end of the first quarter,” one senior EU official said. “These statements clearly, explicitly, go against what Bannon has been saying,” said another.

“We are starting to see traces of pragmatism in Washington,” a third senior EU foreign policy official said…But the question remained: “Will Trump be saying the same thing tomorrow?”…At a news conference, Pence repeatedly name-checked the “Union” as a partner, in contrast to earlier statements on his European visit that focused only on U.S. cooperation with “Europe”…

“I think Pence was surprised by the strength of Tusk’s questions and anxiety,” an EU official said of the earlier meeting between the two men. “He said he would take the message back to Trump. It sounds like Trump listened.”**


#2

One can laud EU participation for those who want it, while still accepting or even lauding the freedom of others to leave it.


#3

Indeed but ever since Pence’s trip to Europe and his - impressively - pro-EU speech (and it really was a very pro-EU-sounding speech), I think it would be hard to deny that there has been a significant shift in tone and that Vice-President Pence appears to have impressed some of his own views upon Trump and got him to change his manner of speaking in relation to the EU.

I must admit that I had not seen the pro-EU message from Pence coming and even less so this more conciliatory line from Trump - not at least, going by the views of Trump supporters on this forum and from the Breitbart folks.


#4

Here’s his actual statement:

yahoo.com/news/highlights-reuters-interview-trump-064507797–business.html

**ON SUPPORTING THE EUROPEAN UNION AS A GOVERNING BODY?

“I do, sure. I have very good relations with the EU. But I thought that the UK would pull out of Brexit and I was right. … But the EU, I’m totally in favor of it. I think it’s wonderful, if they’re happy. If they’re happy – I’m in favor of it.”**

Breitbarters are ideologically opposed to the EU given their inherent nativistic nationalism. Pence and Trump - at least now after speaking with Pence, seemingly - are apparently not. This is a pragmatic line.

That’s good to know and in my opinion is a positive thing for the future.


#5

I’m not sure what a “Breitbarter” is, and am even less sure what “inherent nativistic nationalism” is, but I, for myself, have always felt that if Brits or anyone else want to leave the EU, they should be free to do it. Obviously, in such a situation, people have reasons with which one might disagree, but which are sufficient to those who want it.

I probably don’t fully understand why the Brit majority wants out of the EU, though I have seen some of the reasons asserted. As an American, and realizing Americans’ situations are quite different, having a “continental economy” in one country, it is not surprising to me that, given European history and current events, many Brits might be more wary of “the continent” that, say, a German might be.

Returning to “continental economies”, as a person as well-informed as you, Vouthon, you are surely aware of the current dust up with Mexico. To me, it’s a tempest in a teapot which will ultimately involve some relatively minor changes in the NAFTA deal, but will absolutely involve border security improvements.

I don’t have a lot of involvement with matters Canadian, but I have sufficient experience with trade to know there might as well not be a U.S./Canadian border when it comes to the flow of products and many services. To the extent that’s the case, then, one might add Canada to the American “continental economy”.

Now, can Britain realign itself with the North American continent instead of the European one? Time will tell, one supposes, and it will depend on things I can’t possibly know, particularly in terms of the exchange of products and services. But I think Britain could at least know it is very unlikely a relationship with North America will involve political mandates of the sort demanded by “the continent” of Europe, since the U.S., itself, would mightily resist political mandates, more so now than before.


#6

I’m referring to the contributors, readership and prolific commentators over on the Breitbart news agency, which as you know has close links with Mr Bannon.

The people over at Breitbart are literally obsessed with the EU - for some reason, unbeknownst to me given that they aren’t in the main Europeans themselves - and have written article after article, comment after comment dripping, nay salivating, with longing for a great unravelling of the supranational system in place in my continent and a return to the completely autonomous nation-states of the past. I wish they would stop fantasizing about revolutionary upheavals and radically changing the political system in a different jurisdiction. But that’s a different story…

Their dislike of the EU is ideological, is my point.

Trump and Pence, have adopted a pragmatic line - in Pence’s case he praised the supranational system created after WWII and stated that the U.S. is “committed to the EU”. Trump is now extending, in essence, diplomatic courtesy and conciliatory words.

To me, this is a refreshing change from those “Breitbart” folks. I’m glad and hope it translates into future diplomatic relations.

is, but I, for myself, have always felt that if Brits or anyone else want to leave the EU, they should be free to do it.

I’ve always agreed with this. Problem for the UK is that we are ourselves a country composed of sub-nations, two of which - not including Gibraltar - adamantly don’t want to leave the EU. So it’s rather complicated internally.

Obviously, in such a situation, people have reasons with which one might disagree, but which are sufficient to those who want it.

Amen to that.

As an American, and realizing Americans’ situations are quite different, having a “continental economy” in one country, it is not surprising to me that, given European history and current events, many Brits might be more wary of “the continent” that, say, a German might be.

In England, yes but not in Scotland. Our independence issue has been revived again. There could be a referendum held as early as Autumn 2018. Now, I have no clue how that would work out. We could vote to remain in the UK again, if it takes place, or vote to set off into the European sun and join the EU as a Member State by 2023. But the point is, the dispute over the EU has come to this.

I won’t be voting in any future referendum, thank God, since I’m permanently domiciled in London now, for work purposes. It’s become my home - but I’m still a Scottish Brit and I’m in the odd situation of just watching this play out. On the one hand, I don’t want the UK to break apart, obviously, and the island of Great Britain to become the new Ireland, divided between North and South with a border crossing. But, I can’t deny, the idea of having my European citizenship back, after its been rescinded two years from now, is tempting…

I’ve also always thought that some of the wealthy, intelligentsia portions of the Brexit side - who harbour far less concerns, if any at all, about Eastern European free movement and scarcity of jobs - just cannot stomach, and more to the point never have been able to stomach, the idea of their nation, which once ruled the waves being “just” (as they see it) a Member State collaborating with equals - and tiny Luxembourg is considered an equal within the EU legislature and Commission to Britain - within a larger Union.

It was never about immigration for these people. And that’s fair enough.

Now, can Britain realign itself with the North American continent instead of the European one?

That’s a good point. Certainly, the UK will be seeking an even closer relationship with the U.S. post-Brexit and your right, this wouldn’t come with any “sovereignty” price in the sense that joining a political union like the EU would.

Thing is though, countries tend to have significantly higher trading relationships with their immediate neighbours. Australia has close cultural ties to the rest of the Anglophone but its main export destinations are China ($82.9B), Japan ($43.1B), South Korea ($19B) and India ($11.1B), with the U.S. not far behind.

That’s natural, since Australia is closer geographically to the Asia-Pacific, so it’s only commonsense for its largest markets to be Asian.

For the UK, 46 % of exports from U.K. cities are delivered to the EU which is three times more than to the US and 11 times more than to China. Again, that’s only natural.

We’re going to still have the problem of a giant, continental single market in goods, services and capital just over the channel - literally joined to Britain via the channel tunnel - that we rely need to trade with.

If Scotland, hypothetically, were to become an independent member state of the EU, that would be even worse for England (I say England, since the Northern Irish, who are predominantly Ulster Scots, would have less reason to stay in the Union without us and Wales would surely see little point in being a little appendage to England), since we - meaning myself in England as well - would have a border with the EU on our own island!!!

In this event, we would be as closely yoked to the EU as you are with Canada - sharing a border with the EU in Scotland and another with the EU in the Irish Republic (for as long as NI would remain part of the UK, in that hypothetical scenario). The rump UK would literally be hemmed in by the EU to the North and West, like a sandwich really.

You can see why, no doubt, this would be a nightmare come true for many people. Even if its avoided and Scotland remains, we still have a border with the EU in Ireland.


#7

On that latter point, it would look like this:


#8

If one credits the more dire prognostications above, one might reasonably conclude that Great Britain is no longer a country, having already been dissolved by the EU in all but name. If Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have so little allegiance to G.B. that they won’t accept a vote of the majority and prefer to become, in effect, vassal states of the EU, then Great Britain doesn’t exist at all, and hasn’t for quite some time.

Very sad.


#9

Not Wales, they voted to Leave the EU with England.

But if the “dire” hypothetical scenario were to play out - and it could, although very well may not, I have not the foggiest clue myself this time around - they would have little reason to be a tiny add on to England when they aren’t themselves English. It makes sense for them to be part of a greater Union involving the whole of Britain, all the British people, and the greater part of the British Isles but I can’t see them sticking in their alone.

The Northern Irish Ulsterman are proudly British but their first bonds of kinship, of heritage, are primarily with the Scots. As you know from your Appalachian folk, Ridgerunner, these people are overwhelmingly ethnically Scottish and Celtic, not Anglo-Saxon. They call themselves “Ulster Scots” in NI, not even Scots-Irish as they do in America. I imagine that they would have less reason to reject Irish Nationalist arguments to unify with the Republic in the South, in the event of a Scottish secession.

Scotland is at the heart of the Union, of the British identity, because it is the link between all four regions. If the Scots ever quit, the UK is over. I genuinely hope it doesn’t happen, but its certainly plausible.

I think it will involve a lot of factors, that are contingent and unknown at present. But to discount it as a feasible outcome would be a fool’s errand. It’s very possible. An article published today:

independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/scottish-snp-government-second-indepedence-referendum-union-uk-britain-a7596881.html

**Scottish SNP government ‘seriously considering second independence referendum next year’

Nicola Sturgeon’s team increasingly confident they can win as Brexit looms

The Scottish government is seriously considering a second independence referendum next year, it has been claimed.

Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP is increasingly confident it would win a second vote, as the First Minister believes the circumstances around it would be different to the first poll because of Brexit.

Scots voted to remain a part of the UK by a wide margin in 2014.

Charles Grant, an adviser to the Scottish government’s Standing Council on Europe, told Reuters: “I believe the Scottish government is thinking very, very seriously about going for an independence referendum next year.

“They feel they have enough emotion and momentum to overcome the economic downsides … the harder the Brexit, the more likely they are to break away.”

And one Scottish politician, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the agency: “If you don’t call [an independence vote] now, it’s off the cards for a generation.” The economic fallout of Brexit would make future voters wary of more change, they said.

The Scottish government published a draft bill for a second referendum last autumn, but Ms Sturgeon has said a “soft” Brexit would take Scottish independence off the table for the foreseeable future.

She has previously said that being forced out of the single market would be one red line that might cause her to trigger a second independence referendum.

However, Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said there is “no set of circumstances” in which Scotland could stay in the European Union as the rest of the UK completes Brexit.

Last week, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, said Europe “cannot afford to lose” Scotland.**

The dynamics have changed since last time.

Last time, in 2014, the secessionists were depicted as inward-looking nationalists cutting themselves off from a Union with their fellow English, Welsh and Northern Irish, spurning centuries of shared heritage and nationhood. I saw them as such.

This time around, they could depict themselves as outward-looking internationalists seeking to remain part of a greater, continental Union. And their argument would be that Scotland’s voice has not been properly respected within the UK because of the decision of the government to go for Hard Brexit.

Perhaps it still won’t be enough but I wouldn’t bet on it either way, in the event of a second referendum taking place, if I were a betting man. That’s if it takes place at all and provided Britain Brexits smoothly in 2019, without any sudden ‘Bregrets’.


#10

I have some awareness of the history of Scotland and England, and it hasn’t always been smooth. However, it’s jaw-dropping to think the Scots would prefer to be de facto minor appendages of Germany than part of Great Britain.


#11

The main product of the EU seems to be worry. I am wondering just when the US has ever been a threat? The tens of thousand of crosses and grave markers seem to testify to the opposite. The EU was greatly pleased when the last President revealed true weakness, so maybe strength is frightening?


#12

To be fair, we can’t actually withdraw from “Great Britain” unless we managed to invent some deep earth tectonic explosive device that could break apart the island of Britain into two halves at the River Tyne. :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyone born on the island of Britain is British, a political referendum can’t change geography, of course. Southern Irish and Northern Irish didn’t cease being Irish the moment partition was signed.

No matter what my passport says, I’ll always be British, just as you are American (politically) and North American (geographically). Curiously, as a Scot living in England, I’d end up with a citizen of both “countries” in that hypothetical scenario. That would be freaky and surreal, like my identity being spliced in two. Schizophrenic, almost :rolleyes:

In terms of Scottish-English relations, I’d see them in terms of North-South relations in the US. That’s the best analogy to understand it, vis-a-vis your country. Just as you guys embrace one American identity, we embrace one British identity. But we still retain our sub-identities. They don’t go away.

As for the EU issue, Scots who do want Scotland in the EU but out of the UK, wouldn’t see it as a case of becoming “de facto minor appendages of Germany”. Our government would get to appoint a Scot as one of the Commissioners serving the President in the executive European Commission: one commissioner per each 28 Member States, all of equal rank and authority within the supranational institution irrespective of population size of countries. Our ministers would pass legislation in the Council of the European Union, equal to all the other nations. In the European Council (distinct from the former), our First Minister would discuss the policy of the Union with all the other Heads of State, acting in concert. And, as citizens, we’d be directly represented by MEPs in the European Parliament, albeit we’d have a smaller voice there.

Within the UK, these people would say that we’re at a much greater imbalance with England than we would be banding together with all the other small EU countries in the European Union. The population dynamic between England and Scotland is like that between California and Connecticut, proportionately.

That is why one of the best ways of keeping the UK together would be for it to become a federal state - in which Scotland, Wales, NI and the English regions are all considered to be States. This is being seriously mooted by some politicians:

theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/24/labour-constitutional-reforms-federal-uk-scotland

**Labour expected to consider possibility of federal UK

The Labour party is expected to set up a people’s convention to study radical reforms of the UK constitution, possible federalism and scrapping the House of Lords after Brexit…

It would look into redistributing powers and spending relating to agriculture, fisheries and social programmes that are currently controlled by the EU to the UK’s nations and English regions, Corbyn said.**

This would balance out the deficit in size between England and everybody else.

The question is though: would the English regions be willing to be empowered with such radical devolved decision-making powers in this way? London already has a devolved assembly and is effectively an island unto itself from much of the rest of England. Cornwall has its own Celtic identity, flag and Cornish language - their not really English - but otherwise, would it take hold?

And I cannot help but be minded, by your words above, of a famous statement made by the late Margaret Thatcher before the House of Lords in 1993, when Parliament was discussing the Maastricht Treaty that would come into effect that year and create both European citizenship and the Euro currency. She posed a potencially prophetic question to the peers

margaretthatcher.org/document/108314

Baroness Thatcher:

My Lords, when I came to this House it was somehow under the impression that things were less lively here, much more courteous and much less robust… I agree with his fundamental underlying assumption; namely, that it is that treaty which takes us over the top to a new political entity, a European union, which we have never had before…

Therefore, it follows that even if we were not to endorse Maastricht—and I am very much aware of the rules of this House—we are still members of the Treaty of Rome; we cannot break it…We do not break our treaties—and if ever we did, no one would ever sign one with us again. So even if we did not endorse Maastricht, we would still be part of Europe

There it is—straight out: a new stage. It is a very important big step, because…It creates a European Union. Later, Article 8 creates a citizenship of the Union, something totally new. It establishes it. It applies to every person holding the nationality of a member state.

The article refers to rights and duties and spells out the new rights which can be extended. Moreover, if there is a citizenship, you would all owe a duty of allegiance to the new Union. What else is citizenship about? There will be a duty to uphold its laws. What will happen if the allegiance to the Union comes into conflict with allegiance to our own country?

"What else is citizenship about? What will happen if the allegiance to the Union comes into conflict with allegiance to our own country?"


#13

Greatly pleased at your last President’s weakness? :shrug: When did they do that?


#14

Sounds amusingly like Labour is borrowing from some Pan-Celtic politciians and thinkers who suggested this idea of a federalized Britain or alternatively an union of states from which England would be excluded. Not a historically very successful political movement but it shows that all political ideas do tend to eventually get dug up reused.


#15

If only President Trump - or even V-P Pence - would grab a mike and croon to the assembled EU worthies:

'S wonderful! 'S marvelous
You should care for me
'S awful nice! 'S paradise
'S what I love to see
You’ve made my life so glamorous
You can’t blame me for feeling amorous
Oh! 'S wonderful! 'S marvelous
That you should care for me


#16

There are treaties forbidding such uses of weapons of mass destruction I am reliably informed. The though of Trump doing jazz is truly terrifying.


#17

But isn’t it romantic?” Frankly I think Pence has the better voice.


#18

Not heard him speak a great deal, the news he focussed little on him here actually as Trump generates much better viewing figures for some reason or, cough, other. I think this is Trump slowly wising up to pragmatic political realities and realizing he will have to do business with the EU as he goes along.


#19

I heard Trump trying to sing Drake’s ‘Cell Phone Bling’ (it wasn’t really singing, just talking his way through it) when he hosted Saturday Night Live last year and it is based on that that I believe Pence would do a better job carrying a tune. Though if you’ve ever heard Joao Gilberto’s version of ‘S wonderful’ it can be done in a minimalist way.


#20

Aghh, pure curiosity made me look him up doing that:-

youtube.com/watch?v=liaCDeWpmXA

I will admit he does a quite funny take on it.

Back to business, the Scots may or not leave the UK. My feeling is they will not at this time for a variety of factors and that the SNP will not always enjoy the level of support it does which is unprecedented for it and arose for numerous reasons and could fade away quite quickly.


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