STILL A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP?
On Friday, Theresa May and Donald Trump met in Washington for the first time since they took office in their respective countries. Commenting on the event, the editorial board of The New York Times writes that, notwithstanding the importance of the meeting, the effective strength of the US-UK “special relationship” will depend on what kind of interaction will be in place between the US and Russia in the future.
Writing on The Independent, David Usborne claims that Downing Street picked the wrong moment to visit Trump, given the measures recently undertaken by the US president in matters of immigration. Moreover, Usborne criticizes Theresa May for having held a “sycophantic” attitude, as worries about Brexit are mounting at home. Writing on The Guardian, Natalie Nougayrède takes a different stance on Trump’s presidency: notwithstanding the drawbacks of Trump’s political positions and personality, Nougayrède claimed that the EU cannot afford to distance itself from the US. According to the French editorialist, a world not protected by the US would provoke nothing but havoc on the global stage.
Writing on The New York Times, Jonathan Coe rounds on Theresa May and Donald Trump for having claimed once again to represent the “will of the people”. Coherently, Coe argues that there is no “élite vs people” dynamic at place in US or British politics. On the contrary, Coe argues that Brexit and Trump’s elections are nothing but the result of a clash between two distinct élites, namely a “financial” and a “cultural” one.
BREXIT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
Meanwhile Brexit remains at the heart of European intellectual debates. Robert Kalcik and Guntram B. Wolff, writing on Bruegel, wonder whether Brexit could become an opportunity for the European Parliament (EP) to reform. According to the authors, the answer must be positive. They suggest that the UK’s departure from the EU should trigger some reform aimed at reducing the inequality of citizens’ representation within the EP. However they claim that a reform of the Treaties of the EU would be necessary to do so.
Referring to the current prospects of the UK industrial sector and the government’s strategy for Brexit, The Independent’s Ben Chu claims that the British MPs should block Article 50 if they really want to defend business in the country. Chu sarcastically recalls the 2015 Conservative manifesto, which read: “We say yes to the single market”.
Last week, European Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, held a speech on international trade and borders at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. The Commissioner defended free trade, open societies and claimed that those “who think to limit people’s freedoms are doomed to fail”.
Moreover, on EurActiv, Sophie Pornschlegel and Marcel Hadeed, underline once again that British politics are characterized by a generational clash. The latter has been exemplified by the Brexit vote turnout. After recalling that only 64% of voters aged between 18 and 24 went to the polls in June, Pornschlegel and Hadeed argue that if there is any chance to raise public support for the Brexit negotiations, it must go through the involvement of the younger generation: “Instead of focusing on the past, decision-makers and the public must focus on the future and find appropriate solutions to the mess Brexit has created”, they claim.
DOES THE LEFT STAND A CHANCE?
The nomination of Benoit Hamon and Martin Schulz as the centre-left candidates in the forthcoming general elections in France and Germany has also been discussed in the past week’s comments and editorials. Writing on EurActiv, Adrien Valbray, argues that Hamon’s victory confirms a sort of “Corbynisation” of leftist politics in France. Valbray claims that Hamon’s leadership risks to split the party, as the left-winger only represents 30% of party members. The Economist comments that Hamon will lead the Socialist Party to a clear defeat in the spring presidential election. The editors argue that the centrist voters might move to support former Minister of the Economy Emmanuel Macron, who runs as an independent. Moreover, The Economist claims that the economy will play a crucial role during the electoral campaign.
Writing on Die Welt, Daniel Friedrich Sturm comments on Martin Schulz’s first speech as SPD Chancellor-candidate. Sturm claims that after playing the card of the “people’s politician”, Schulz needs to show that he is truly able to compete with Angela Merkel in the electoral competition. The Economist argues that although Schulz is definitely a better candidate than Sigmar Gabriel, all polls indicate that the SPD will probably still lose the next Bundestag elections.
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