"Getting along" may now be the best Britain can hope forby Emily Stacey / November 25, 2016 / Leave a comment
There have been reports that Donald Trump will be invited to meet the Queen next year, a move Theresa May would surely use to strengthen the Anglo-American “special relationship.” It is in need of strengthening. Not long after the Brexit referendum I was in a coffee shop in Washington DC and heads turned at the realisation that I was a Brit. The staff were quick to offer a tea on the house, “If the pound was stronger…” they sympathised, “we’d accept your dollar.” I got the impression that they no longer thought of the UK as a global power. And the special relationship, the waiter believed, died well back in the 1980s.
This view was confirmed by George Will, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post commentator. “The UK was far more important to the US back in 1975—the special relationship was still real back then,” he told me. Revealingly, he added that many Americans wouldn’t even have known who David Cameron was, despite the former prime minister’s frequent travels abroad.
The UK was a strong ally back when the United States needed strength post-1945. But the need for such support in today’s world has since dissipated. Barely a Labour leader has been taken seriously in Washington since Tony Blair, I was told—and he was the last British leader who was perceived as “presidential.” Although Britain and the US maintain a co-operative alliance, once courtesies are set aside it is clear that the UK, once a key voice in international negotiations, is now of little significance to Washington’s political agenda.