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Bolton offers UK costly carrot

China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-08-14 07:11

The red carpet the British government rolled out for US National Security Advisor John Bolton on Monday suggests that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "putting Britain in hock to" Washington. A prospect that will not only make many in Britain uneasy, but also fill people in other countries with foreboding.

Given what happened the last time the two countries cozied up together, there are palpable concerns about what the two might get up to when they start sweet talking one another.

Particularly since, as predicted, without any foreplay, Bolton offered US support of a no-deal Brexit and some to-the-administration's-point suggestions on being tough on Iran and the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. Coming from arguably the most hawkish member of the US administration, it conveyed a sense of urgency that the United States wants to reforge its all-weather bonds with its most loyal buddy.

In airing the US' support of a no-deal Brexit, the US might be the only major power not feeling uncomfortable with it. Despite the incongruousness of the top US security adviser talking about trade relations, Bolton confidently predicted tangible benefits for the United Kingdom once it left the "byzantine EU regulatory system", thanks to what he said would be "enhanced economic relations" between the UK and the US.

It is understandable that many in Britain are taking his words with a pinch of salt, given that as an architect of the Iraq War, he assured the British they would benefit from it.

No doubt, the British government can now look forward to Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, visiting the UK to talk about defense.

And while Bolton might not recall it, many Britons still remember the words of Wilber Ross, his colleague and secretary of commerce, who said in 2016 when he was nominated for the post that Brexit is a "God given opportunity" for the US to steal trade from the UK.

That the US might be whispering sweet nothings and not really have the UK's best interests at heart is something the UK might want to bear in mind whenever the US administration tries to pressure it to ban the use of Huawei products in its 5G networks. Bolton was just the latest member of the US administration to splash dirty water on the company.

Britain should be aware that, although the US might be willing to pay for its support in the form of a trade deal of some description, a no-deal Brexit, antagonizing Iran and a boycott of Huawei will not be in its best interests since the costs will surely be much higher.

(China Daily Global 08/14/2019 page11)

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