From the New York Sun
President Trump couldn’t have put the point better than to say, as he did this afternoon in his press conference with Prime Minister May, that “a free and independent Britain is a blessing to the world.” It was exactly the right phrasing, exactly the right signal as Mrs. May prepares to return to London to seek formal permission in Parliament to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, beginning the process of leaving the constraints of the European Union.
We say that as the first American newspaper to endorse the British exit from the EU — and the first to suggest that the right reaction to Brexit would be to move Britain to the front of the queue for a trade pact and to strengthen the special relationship. Mr. Trump’s welcome of Brexit marked one of the important points of difference with the Democrats. We don’t mind saying that it is deeply satisfying to watch the way this is developing so early in Mr. Trump’s presidency.
We wonder whether we’re the only newspaper that nurses concerns in respect of Mrs. May’s performance at Philadelphia. She is well spoken to the nines. We like the way she lauded, however glancingly, America’s “intervention” in World War I, its joining World War II, and its victorious leadership, with Britain, in the Cold War. She marked our and Britain’s founding role in the post-war institutions of Bretton Woods, NATO, and the UN.
Given all that, though, what was her point — her standing, for that matter — to be asserting that the “days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over”? Is that how she interprets the Battle of Iraq? How does it comport with her declaration that “whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or the Baltic states in Eastern Europe, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries”?
It was Mrs. May’s own government, moreover, that just joined with the enemies of Israel in voting in the United Nations Security Council for Resolution 2344. If she has apologized for that, it failed to reach our newsroom. How does Mrs. May expect to be seen as credible without a full explanation of that betrayal? She was, as well, way too kind in respect of the Iran appeasement, basically echoing the line of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.
It would be a mistake to make too much of these concerns. It is more than fitting that that the British prime minister was the first to be received in the White House by Mr. Trump. How smart it was of Mr. Trump to have, during the campaign, embraced the idea of an independent Britain. The bilateral trade agreement that he is now set up to reach as rapidly as possible should pay dividends not only for Mrs. May but for Mr. Trump, as well.
It could yet serve as the premier template for bilateral trade agreements of those who would have been bound with us in the Trans Pacific Partnership. And for, say, Mexico, if things get to the point where a bilateral arrangement looks better than the North American Free Trade Agreement, with its supranational structure. And it could be the embryo for a values-based expansion of the special relationship, to include not only America and Britain but others who cherish liberal democracy.
These columns have already mentioned Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Israel. One could add Free China. Japan, too. It is hard to see any of the world bodies, leastwise the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, as being a logical focus of any hopes. Better to work start with a deal with Britain, celebrate it at the state visit to which Elizabeth II invited our new president, and build out from the treaty of amity and commerce struck with Britain in 1795 by Chief Justice Jay. A blessing that is 220 years young.
|Correction from January 27, 2017:
How smart it was of Mr. Trump to have, during the campaign, embraced the idea of an independent Britain. This sentence was mis-stated in an early edition due to a syntactical error by the editor.