How fitting that the 70th anniversary of George Orwell’s publication of his legendary dystopian novel “1984” should see another of the genius’s prophecies fulfilled. Early in August, Britain’s new international Trade Secretary Liz Truss flew to Washington in the naive – indeed, desperate – hope that US President Donald Trump could and would bail her country out of its Brexit disaster.
In “1984” terms, Airstrip One was crying out for help to Oceania and its ruler, who in the novel was only known as “Big Brother.”
Orwell in his vision of the future, published in June 1949 saw his beloved England– still in those days the proud ruler of a quarter of the population and territories of the Earth – reduced to Airstrip One – a humble offshore island subsidiary of a totalitarian evolution of the United States – in the novel known as Oceania.
Truss is an experienced politician, yet she still manages to project the extraordinary innocence of a child. Terrifyingly, this does not appear to be an act. The woman in whom the hopes for economic survival of 65 million people reside really does appear to be as innocent, simplistic and witless as she looks (Her predecessor Liam Fox was even worse).
In an appearance at Washington’s uber-conservative Heritage Foundation, Truss, without even realizing it, admitted that the British government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in utter chaos. It doesn’t have a clue and it has no hope for the kind of trade agreements it has tried for and failed to reach over the past three years.
“We are leaving the European Union on October 31 There will be no if’s there will be no buts,” she told her Heritage audience. If we have to leave with no deal, so be it.”
What then, would Britain’s future be, if cut off from the great integrated market of 450 million people where it had regained its prosperity and stability over the past 40 years?
Truss was clear about that: “Working with the US is going to be very important,” she said. “You are our single most important economic partner in economic terms.”
Frighteningly, Truss truly appeared to believe the mindless drivel she spouted at Heritage. Cliché piled upon cliché like Pelion piled upon Ossa.
Leaving the EU, Truss said, “Will give us new freedoms and in my view the ability to strike a new FTA [Free Trade Agreement] with the US is very high on the list.
“We don’t believe the gloomsters and the doomsters.”
“We think our best days are in front of us.”
“It’s morning again in Britain.”
“We believe Britain is well placed to become Europe’s largest economy.”
“Leeds and Manchester – why they can’t become global cities on the world stage?”
“Together [with the United States} we are the ideas factory of the world.”
Here was the secret ace up Johnson and Truss’s sleeves: Donald Trump and the United States -“Uncle Sam” – will magically bail them out.
In other words, slavish dependence on the United States remains – as it has been for the past century – the only idea that the once proud and mighty British have left.
In the past, a long-suffering United States did indeed often and generously bail the feckless and bungling British out. They saved them from otherwise certain defeat at the hands of Imperial Germany in 1918. They and the Soviet Union saved the British from defeat and extermination at the hands of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany and they protected the British throughout the Cold War.
In fact, Trump and his current National Security Adviser, John Bolton are superficially well disposed towards a trade deal with Britain.
But they’re not going to get it –and Brexit is the reason why.
There are more than 50 million people in the United States of Irish or part Irish descent and most of them cherish the fateful1998 Good Friday Agreement that dissolved the old land border between the Republic of Ireland and strife-torn little Northern Ireland within the context of the EU.
However, the hard, “no-deal” Brexit or exit from the EU that Johnson has promised would inevitably restore that border.
In August, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both stated very clearly that any Brexit solution restoring a hard border – and the threat of renewed civil strife – in Ireland was Dead on Arrival in Congress.
Under US parliamentary rules, the cooperation of the Democrats – who control the House and have well over the one third membership of the Senate required to veto any foreign treaty or trade deal – is essential for the Free Trade Agreement Johnson and Truss desperately need.
The deadline for this trade deal is close – little more than two months. Johnson – true to his image as “BoJo the Clown” has pledged to deliver Brexit, one way or another by October 31. That is the date for Britain’s Disaster.
Bottom Line: Boris Johnson through his own reckless drive to pull off a hard, no-deal Brexit has also destroyed any hope for the special trade deal with the United States that he imagined would stave off disaster. He isn’t going to get it. Airstrip One is going to sink at last. And this time, not even Oceania can save it.