The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

Editorial: EU Malta council - Playing with her cuffs

Friday, 3 February 2017, 07:48 Last update: about 7 years ago

At the last European Council, the first one she attended, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was left, according to Adam Boulton, all alone and she spent her time playing with her cuffs.

Will she do the same at the European Council that is being held today in Malta?

So many things have happened in the period between the last Council and today.


On the British side, Mrs May has now outlined what kind of Brexit she wants, a hard Brexit. She has threatened repercussions if the UK does not get what it wants or if it feels it is being punished by the EU. She has hinted she could turn Britain into the Singapore of Europe, ie an offshore jurisdiction (not that this would be easy or without repercussions). Meanwhile, in defiance of EU law, she has hinted at preliminary discussions on trade with the US even before triggering Article 50.

The upshot of Brexit is for the UK to free itself from what it perceives as EU shackles. Up till last week, Britain and May nurtured the pious hope that a free Britain could re-establish the special relationship with the US.

But that was shot to pieces when President Trump issued yet another Executive Order that shut down accepting anybody from seven Muslim countries into the US. This order was issued on the same evening, a week ago today, when Mrs May visited the White House but there is no indication she was informed about this let alone consulted.

The Britain which is freeing itself of EU shackles is now demonstrably subservient to a US led by a president who roams around the world like a bull in a china shop. Who doesn’t take advice, who doesn’t listen, who ignores the niceties of diplomacy and who intends to fully do all the outlandish propositions he mentioned in the election campaign.

With her hard Brexit, Theresa May has bound her country to this man without any hope of making him see reason, and without any alternative left for Britain.

On top of that, President Trump’s programme for his country, as outlined in his Inauguration Speech, is unashamedly protectionist. It is true Trump is all for undermining the EU, destroying the euro, helping other countries to split away from the EU. Which will no doubt further endear Mrs May with the other EU leaders today.

Today’s summit, in other words, could easily turn into a Britain-bashing session, in her presence or behind her back.

At least, either out of design or by accident, Britain has not so far taken the anti-immigrant rhetoric to the dramatic tones of Trump’s Executive Order and started holding people at airports. Yet both Britain’s and the US’s anti-immigrant move stem from the same root – a perception that migrants mean trouble, mean instability, mean a threat to the nation.

Yet today’s multicultural Britain and even more so today’s multicultural America have become great because of their multiculturalism, not in spite of it.

In the coming weeks, as Brexit draws near, we will see an exodus of able and trained persons and companies, banks included who are already relocating to different cities in Europe. Many Britons who voted for Brexit think it will mean the last of Polish builders and Romanian workers but it will also mean the exit of so many French, etc who people the financial services sector.

Then, when Britain will have built up a wall around itself similar to the wall Trump has in mind for the Mexican border, it will find itself completely isolated and with the only ally on the other side of the sea and in the hands of a person who has shown himself insensitive to those who he should have cultivated as allies and friends.


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