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Boris Johnson Boris Johnson taking part in his first Prime Minister’s Questions. Photo UK Parliament, Jess Taylor

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Professors warn Boris Johnson's Brexit could damage Special Relationship

Two Professors from the American University, Washington DC, discuss the implications of Boris Johnson’s premiership on the Special Relationship

Published on September 5, 2019

Boris Johnson's Premiership hasn't been short of stories, and this week has seen extraordinary events in the Houses of Parliament as legislation is put through to, in effect, block a No Deal Brexit outcome. As Vice President Mike Pence prepares to visit the UK, with an expected meeting with the Prime Minister today, following strong optimism on both sides of the Pond for a US-UK free trade agreement, we asked two Professors at the American University in Washington DC to express their thoughts on how Prime Minister Johnson's decisions on Brexit could affect the Special Relationship.

We asked Dr Filippo Trevisian and Professor Carolyn Gallaher, "How do you think Boris Johnson's approach to Brexit will affect Americans who are living/working in the UK, and the Special Relationship?"

Dr Filippo Trevisan, Assistant Professor, School of Communication, American University, Washington, DC

"When it comes to the Special Relationship, Boris Johnson’s Brexit gamble seems designed to capitalize on the fact that relations between the United States and its other Western European partners during the Trump presidency have been at their lowest in recent decades. Given these circumstances, some could argue that a “hard” Brexit presents an opportunity to strengthen the Special Relationship and the Trump administration has publicly supported Johnson’s strategy in an overtly political move that humiliated his predecessor Theresa May. The reality, however, is one of uncertainty as it isn’t quite clear what strategic interest the US would have in opening a preferential lane for a weakened and relatively isolated UK at a time in which the Trump administration is embroiled in contentious trade disputes with other countries. In addition, a “no deal” Brexit could also jeopardize the future of peace in Northern Ireland, which has been at the forefront of successive US administrations' agendas and remains very important for millions of Irish-Americans."

Professor Carolyn Gallaher, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, School of International Service, American University, Washington DC

"Brexit probably won't have an immediate impact on Americans living in working in the UK, but Johnson's effort to engineer a hard Brexit will do lasting harm to the special relationship between the US and the UK. That relationship was built on the ashes of of two devastating world wars and a joint promise to prevent a third one from ever happening. By supporting free trade, NATO, and democracy promotion, both countries amplified and magnified a vision for the future. Together, we were more than the sum of our parts. But, cooperation gets harder when both countries hunker down in their isolationist corners. And, isolation undermines the power of a united front. Why should other countries care if the US and the UK adopt a free trade agreement post Brexit or share intelligence with one another? The impact of our cooperation will be smaller, and the world will move on. Malevolent alliances (Russia and China, Russia and Iran, etc.) won't offer hope, but they will guarantee protection. If we're not careful, the Special Relationship will become a a nostalgic set piece, a museum relic of another time."

What's your view? Let us know how you think Boris Johnson's approach to Brexit will affect the Special Relationship via editor@theamerican.co.uk.

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