Prime Minister Theresa May has taken the bizarre step of coming out to bat for the EU against U.S. President Donald Trump, after the bloc threatened to trigger a damaging “trade war” by levying tariffs on several iconic American brands.
The European Union and its predecessor organisations — the European Community and the European Economic Community — have consistently failed to negotiate a trade agreement with the United States, so its member-states will likely be hit when planned tariffs on steel and aluminium, designed to protect American workers from competitors in low-wage economies, come into force.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the unelected President of the European Commission, responded in characteristically undiplomatic style by saying “we can do stupid too”, and threatening tariffs on American bourbon, Levis jeans, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which will mean higher costs for British and European consumers.
If the E.U. wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the U.S. They make it impossible for our cars (and more) to sell there. Big trade imbalance!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2018
President Trump has made it clear that he will respond strongly to any such move, suggesting a significant increase in the tariff on EU-made cars — which currently stands at just 2.5 per cent, compared to a 10 per cent for American cars being sold in the EU.
This would not greatly impact residents of Juncker’s home country of Luxembourg, but would be extremely bad news for British carmakers, for whom the U.S. is a significant and growing export market.
However, rather than attempt to persuade the European Commission to abandon its plans for a “trade war” or seek to accelerate Britain’s exit from the European Union — which will allow the British government to regain control over its own trade policy — Prime Minister Theresa May has come out to bat for Brussels by taking President Trump to task in a telephone call.
“The Prime Minister raised our deep concern at the President’s forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminium tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity in all parties’ interests,” a Downing Street spokesman told Sky News.
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) September 23, 2017
Breitbart London editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam has previously suggested that Mrs May — who campaigned for a Remain vote during the EU referendum — intends to intentionally sabotage Britain’s relationship with the U.S. in the run up to Brexit.
The Trump administration has been extremely supportive of Britain and is keen to strike a “very big, very powerful” trade agreement, but if a downturn in the ‘special relationship’ makes this impossible it will be easier for the Prime Minister to argue for a ‘Soft Brexit’ which leaves Britain bound tightly to the EU, in the name of securing “economic security”.
“Mrs. May will use the United States and President Trump as a cudgel by which to break Brexit,” he warned in September 2017.