While some have responded to the result of the EU referendum only with denial and rejection, many more are adapting to the new reality and seeking the best route to make the most of the situation. The Chancellor has, happily, abandoned his ill-advised “punishment budget”, and the more positive elements of the Remain camp are now looking at how best to work for a UK outside the EU to be as prosperous and strong as possible.
Nor are those adjustments taking place just here in Britain. In the United States, a swift move seems to be underway to bury President Obama’s promise that Britain would go to “the back of the queue” if we voted Leave (a threat which, incidentally, seems to have played quite a big role in riling up Eurosceptic activists and voters). Members of Congress are openly and keenly discussing the prospect of a new trade deal and no less an organ than the Wall Street Journal has backed the idea in its leader column today:
“…the EU has proved unequal to the urgent tasks of reviving economic growth and resisting security threats on its eastern and southern borders. It’s time for the U.S. to get back in the game because America needs a confident, prosperous Europe as a partner to defend the West against the rise of authoritarian regimes and global disorder.
An important first signal would be for the U.S. to invite the U.K. to begin bilateral free-trade talks that run alongside current talks with the EU. Mr. Obama may not be able to rise above his pre-Brexit taunt that Britain will move to “the back of the queue” on trade. But this would not be his first strategic mistake.
A trade deal with the world’s fifth-largest economy—and one of Europe’s healthiest—is in America’s interests for its own sake. A two-track trade negotiation would also help the British in their negotiation over new terms of trade with the European Union by giving Britain the leverage of a U.S. alternative. U.S.-British talks could also prod Brussels to move faster and rebuff the French protectionism that is infecting the EU-U.S. talks.
Whether or not Mr. Obama leads, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should.”
When the outgoing President made his claim, he was widely disbelieved for exactly these reasons – not only would such a vengeful attitude to an old ally and close partner be out of character for his nation, it would be counter-productive. America loves an opportunity, and that is to all our benefit.