Time for Trump to step up on Brexit – Washington Examiner

As Britain struggles to navigate its way out of the European Union, President Trump needs to step up to assist Prime Minister Theresa May.

Trump could certainly do a lot more. Take trade. While the president has supported British economic confidence by pledging that he wants to reach a free trade deal once Brexit occurs, he has also suggested that Theresa May’s particular Brexit deal would make a good agreement harder to reach. This is a point of some contention, however, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the final word on the matter.

Trump should at least make clear that he wants Britain out of the EU as soon as possible so that a mutually beneficial trade deal can be reached. That would strengthen May’s hand with Conservative members of Parliament, who currently oppose her Brexit deal.

Trump should also dangle the American diplomatic and economic stick in front of the EU. Because the EU, which continues to underperform the U.S. economy, is very interested in its own deal with America. That’s a reflection of the EU’s trade surplus with the U.S., which amounted to $169 billion in 2018. So, while a trade deal would ultimately benefit both nations, the EU needs it more.

Trump should tell the EU that he will be ill-disposed to reaching a deal on a shorter timeline unless the EU makes new concessions to Britain that make Brexit possible, specifically on the Irish border question, which has become a major sticking point. That concern is the primary obstacle to May’s Brexit deal winning parliamentary votes to get over the finish line.

There are other means of leverage Trump can employ. Consider the Trump administration’s warning to Germany this week that unless it prevents the Chinese technology intelligence service firm, Huawei, from engaging with Germany’s 5G network, the U.S. will reduce its intelligence sharing with Berlin. Trump says the same to other EU officials, and believe me, they will listen. EU nations cannot replicate the U.S. intelligence capabilities, particularly those of the NSA, and those capabilities have prevented numerous directed ISIS attacks on European cities. Many hundreds, perhaps thousands of European lives have been saved as a result.

Of course, it’s legitimate to argue why the U.S. should take such steps. Is it in our interest? The answer is yes. Britain is America’s closest ally, and it needs us in this moment of challenge. It has earned that support by its diplomatic, intelligence, and military alliance with us. Remember, Britain has given more than 600 of its sons and daughters in Afghanistan and Iraq, and thousands more have been seriously wounded.

Trump retains a largely positive relationship with Theresa May because both leaders recognize their relationship is about policy more than personality. It’s time to make American policy work for Brexit.

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