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UK's 'special relationship' with the US is more fragile than ever. Just when Boris Johnson is banking on it

October 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Every four years, the world watches as Americans decide who will occupy the most powerful office on Earth. Nowhere is this truer than in the United Kingdom, a country that so often talks of its "special relationship" with the United States, a reference to the term coined by Winston Churchill in 1946.

In the coming years, the UK will dramatically reshape its position in the world, as the Brexit transition period expires on December 31 and the country severs its final ties with the European Union.

This means that either Donald Trump or Joe Biden will play a big part in influencing the UK's Brexit policy before the end of the year.

And even though "it doesn't happen with every prime minister and every president," Rifkind acknowledges, "the intimate institutional relationship on security and a broad range of international issues has stuck. "

Of particular interest is the current row over Johnson's plan to override part of the Brexit deal he signed with the European Union, called the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Critics say Johnson's plan risks a hard border on the island of Ireland -- between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state -- and breaks the 1998 Good Friday Agreement brokered by then-US President Bill Clinton.

We also know that he likes to give the impression that he and Johnson have a close relationship, repeatedly calling him his friend.

And even if Johnson took the view that the British public could overlook Trump's toxicity if he propped up the country post-Brexit, there is scant evidence that this would win over voters.

Rifkind believes that if Trump were to make overtures to Britain, "Johnson is at least smart enough to know that being chums with Trump is not something that helps him with the British public. " And that's a public that Johnson, or his Conservative successor, will have to face in 2024.

If Johnson wanted to join Biden in restoring this sort of order to the world, it would not be unpopular with large parts of the British public.

"Research shows that the British public is more supportive of Democratic US presidents," says Scotto.

Unfortunately for Johnson, some of those voices are supporters of his Conservative Party and people who voted for him in December, when he ran an election campaign on a promise to "Get Brexit Done. " And however marginal their views might be among the public at large, the British political system makes it very hard for a leader to govern without the broad and full support of their own party.

Worse for Johnson, some believe that even in the case of a Trump victory, the special relationship might not really be special enough for Trump to prop him up.

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