Trade deals are always challenging to ratify in Congress … There will be significant resistance, as Speaker Pelosi has said, to ratifying a [U.S.-U.K.] trade agreement that is seen to harm the Good Friday agreement or the interests of people in Northern Ireland.
The personal chemistry between the [leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom] is going to be much better. [President] Trump clearly has favoured Boris [Johnson] as leader for a while. And certainly he and Boris are going to be very like-minded on Brexit.
[Boris Johnson is] coming into the government not wanting to upset Trump. We’ve all been watching Trump long enough where we know he doesn’t reciprocate. He was quick to throw Theresa May under the bus.
[The leak of memos from British Ambassador Kim Darroch to London] appears to be a very limited number, very specifically targeted at [his] assessment at Trump. It’s hard to conclude that this is anything other than politically motivated... [Likely future prime minister] Boris Johnson is really going to be in a bind. On one hand, he’s really going to want to get off to a good start with President Trump. On the other hand, he’s also going to have a domestic audience that he’s going to have to respond to as well as a very serious morale issue within the Foreign Office about how you handle a veteran diplomat who’s just doing his job.
If it’s just [President] Trump dealing with [British Ambassador Kim] Darroch, it’s not as much of a problem because the two of them were not dealing directly with each other anyway. The bigger problem is if word goes out within the administration to senior White House officials and senior State Department officials that they aren’t allowed to engage with Darroch—then that’s really going to handicap his ability to work.
The leak of cables has a chilling effect on what diplomats are prepared to put in writing and send back. I’m sure that British diplomats in embassies around the world are now going to be having similar concerns about things that they are writing in cables and sending back to London.
Trump has approached diplomatic negotiations like business deals, including personal engagement, high stakes gambles and threats to walk away. Yet international relations has complicated and sometimes dangerous second-order effects...Iran, North Korea and China are challenges that predate Trump—so the question is whether his approach is making things worse.
It is hard to imagine anything, including a Trump visit, making British politics worse than they are now. He sees the European Union as an economic foe, welcomes Britain’s decision to leave the E.U. and has taken a predatory approach to bilateral trade talks.