UK Prime Minister Theresa May pledges hard Brexit, threatens trade war
18 January 2017
In a speech at Lancaster House Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May all but threatened economic warfare against Europe if the UK is not granted unlimited access to European markets after it exits the European Union.
May’s aggressive posture is bound up with efforts to forge an economic and political alliance with the incoming administration of Donald Trump in the United States. Only May’s readiness to act as a bludgeon on behalf of Washington against the EU, and particularly against Germany, can account for the combative stand she took prior to triggering Brexit by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
May’s Lancaster House speech is a marker for gauging the extent of the breakdown in inter-imperialist relations both within Europe and between Europe and America. It came one day after an interview given by Trump jointly to Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times and the German Bild newspaper in which the US president-elect stated that Brexit “is going to end up being a great thing.” The EU was “basically a vehicle for Germany,” he added.
Speaking on Tuesday, the same day as May’s aggressive speech, British Chancellor Philip Hammond told the Die Welt Economic Summit in Germany that if Britain’s demands were not met, “[W]e will have to change our model to regain competitiveness. And you can be sure we will do whatever we have to do.”
Britain’s Daily Telegraph editorialised Tuesday that “the UK can go it alone and succeed” if it makes “a promise” of Hammond’s threat to make Britain “a magnet for international business by emulating Donald Trump’s expected deep cuts in US corporation tax and junking European regulation.”