Daniel Kawczynski: The PM is wrong – we should stand with America instead of the EU

Posted On: 
13th July 2018

In the post-Brexit world that the UK will inhabit and shape, we should be standing with President Trump, writes Daniel Kawczynski

Donald Trump and Theresa May at this week's Nato summit in Brussels
Credit: 
PA Images

In my thirteen years as a Member of Parliament, I have rarely strayed from my party’s line; however, the recent events at the G7 summit and the widespread, mob-led, response to President Trump have left me very concerned about the future of this country.

The Prime Minister professes to value our special relationship with the US – an ever more important ally given our impending departure from the European Union. Theresa May’s rhetoric is clear on this – we are key allies, on defence, on security, in trade. She is at pains to make clear that where the UK disagrees with the US, though, we shall not be afraid to say so. 

Few would disagree with that stance, nor would they disagree, for example, with the Prime Minister’s swift condemnation of President Trump’s approach to the separation of families at the Mexican border. However, there are key global issues upon which the Prime Minister is wrong to have distanced the UK from the US – in particular, trade, and the Iran Nuclear Deal.

At this crucial juncture, we need to voice our clear support for the US where it is right, and not limit ourselves to admonishing President Trump where we think he is wrong.     

The Prime Minister recently chose to side with the European Union against the US on the subject of tariffs. Yet, this is a subject upon which the US President is spot on. 

The EU has a long history of being a protectionist racket. The figures speak for themselves. The EU has a tariff of an incredible 16 per cent on diesel cars imported from outside its borders. This makes the US’s 2.5 per cent tariff on diesel cars look positively circumspect. Another unbelievable example is olive oil, with an astronomical $156 tariff per 100 kg imposed by the EU, as against $5 per 100 kg on olive oil entering the US from Europe. 

The EU maintains this stance to prop up wasteful industries in Europe. Take the example of coffee, which, unroasted, can be imported into the EU tariff free, whilst roasted coffee faces a 7.5 per cent tariff. This protects the coffee roasting industries concentrated in Italy and Germany, at the expense of the consumer, who ends up paying a premium for European roasted coffee.  

Our departure from the EU presents a significant opportunity to “wake up and smell the coffee” and to shift our focus away from the EU to promoting a deeper trading relationship with the G7. Lost in the flurry of commentary on that picture of President Trump and the other G7 leaders at the recent summit, was the important prospect the US had raised – of a G7 free trade block.

In the post-Brexit world that the UK will inhabit and shape, we should be standing with President Trump in trying to create a world free of tariffs with seamless free trade, rather than supporting the continuation of the status quo - essentially a continental protectionist racket. We should remember that the US is the UK’s largest single trading partner, accounting for a fifth of all exports, worth over £100 billion a year. The UK should take the generous slice of American pie on offer, rather than a minuscule serving of German sauerkraut. 

The UK Government was also quick to stand with the EU in denouncing the US’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal. This fails to acknowledge Iran’s increasingly destabilising influence in the region in recent years.

It has interfered in Iraq and Syria, attempted to destabilise Bahrain, prolonged the civil war and humanitarian suffering in Yemen by providing economic and military support to the Houthi rebels as well as providing long-term support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Its undermining reach extends beyond the Middle East, with Morocco recently breaking off diplomatic relations with the Iranians following the alleged Iranian backing of the Polisario in Western Sahara.

Containing Iranian subversive influence is vital to UK security and the stability of the region, and in this context we should welcome President Trump’s forthcoming summit with Russia in Helsinki. 

Where we disagree with the US, we should not be afraid to say so, but this only works as a foreign policy tool if we get these decisions right. It is clear that on the key issues of trade and of international security, the UK should be supporting the US, rather than pandering to the illiterate, anachronistic policies of the EU. 

Daniel Kawczynski is Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham