Boris Johnson Needs Something From Everyone at the G-7
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Boris Johnson wants something from everyone at the Group of Seven meeting in Biarritz, France this weekend. He’s hoping the half of the room that’s in the European Union will give him a better exit deal, and the half that isn’t will offer him free-trade deals.
The U.K. leader’s international debut will follow visits to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday. With Brexit looming large, the tone of those meetings will affect his interactions at G-7, notably with U.S. President Donald Trump, who cut an isolated figure at last year’s gathering and sees an ally in Johnson.
As the gap between the EU and the U.S. yawns wider than it has for decades, the big question is where a post-Brexit Britain will land. Johnson seeks closeness with both and could potentially tip the balance on key issues from Iran to China’s Huawei Technologies Co.
It’s a unique position that Trump could seek to exploit. As Jonathan Eyal, international director at the Royal United Services Institute in London, put it: “Trump will be the president who will not try to heal European divisions but rather try to explore and see how much wider they can be prised.”
With that in mind, here is a rundown of the key relationships.
The U.K. loves to boast about the “special relationship” it enjoys with the U.S. After Brexit, it’ll take on a new importance because a trade deal with the world’s biggest economy was touted as one of the great prizes of leaving the EU.
Johnson needs to forge a close relationship with Trump. But not too close. “If he wants to fight and win a general election quite soon, if he’s seen as Trump’s poodle, that won’t help him,” said Centre for European Reform Director Charles Grant.
The early signs are good. Johnson has spoken at least four times by phone with Trump since becoming premier, most recently on Monday. “He’s going to do a fantastic job,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday. “We have a great relationship.” And in a further overture, Trump made clear how much he dislikes the EU: “I hate to say this to you, dealing with the European Union is very difficult. They drive a hard bargain.”
Trump on Johnson: ‘They call him Britain Trump’ – BBC News
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