U.S. political heavyweight Henry Kissinger believes Brexit could strengthen the Anglo-American partnership and enhance Britain’s role as a “security leader” in the West.
The German-born elder statesman, aged 94, served as United States secretary of state and national security advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and remains a totemic and controversial figure in U.S. politics.
Kissinger’s much-cited but likely apocryphal question – “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?” – has been quoted by EU integration enthusiasts as justification for the bloc’s supposed need to acquire a permanent presidency, a diplomatic service and even its own military forces for years.
But the man himself, although “automatically a supporter of Remain” during the Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union, as this was the “familiar” position, is now reported as having evolved his thinking.
“I thought of Britain returning to some of its more historic contributions of bridging the Atlantic and as a security leader of the Western world,” he told a conference in London.
“I still hope that, as these negotiations develop, Britain will be able to continue its role in forming the Atlantic relationship, so that even if some links to Europe are being severed other links will be built with the United States.
“But at the same time Britain will not leave Europe completely but contribute to an Atlantic partnership in a way that is more relevant to the emerging world.”
Kissinger’s remarks echo similar comments he made in January 2017, in which he suggested: “Brexit will be used in a creative way … to create a new role [between] Europe and America in the Atlantic partnership.”
The Trump administration has certainly indicated that it will be open to pursuing a closer commercial and economic ties with the United Kingdom after she leaves the EU and regains her powers to conduct an independent trade policy with Brussels.
Liam Fox, the secretary of state for international trade, met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to discuss an Anglo-American trade agreement on the same day Brexit Secretary David Davis officially commenced his negotiations with the EU.
Asked if he thought such an agreement could be made shortly before his inauguration, President Donald Trump was enthusiastic: “Absolutely, very quickly. I’m a big fan of the UK, we’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly — good for both sides.”