Donald Trump wins: What Theresa May should be worried about once he enters the White House

The Prime Minister congratulated the President-elect following his surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in America

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
@ashcowburn
Wednesday 09 November 2016 17:54
comments
The PM visiting a war memorial in New Delhi
The PM visiting a war memorial in New Delhi

"Stupid, divisive, and wrong" was how Theresa May’s predecessor in Downing Street characterised the President-elect Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks on Muslims earlier this year. The Prime Minister, however, had remained careful during the campaign not to express a preference for either candidate.

In a statement released 90 minutes after the majority of news outlets called Mr Trump the victor in the American election over Hillary Clinton, Ms May also congratulated the new leader and insisted Britain and the United States will remain “strong and close partners”.

“I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on being elected the next president of the United States, following a hard-fought campaign,” the Prime Minister said.

“Britain and the United States have an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise.”

Ms May is not only aware that one of the pillars of British foreign policy – its relationship with the European Union – lies in tatters, but now the so-called “special relationship” with the United States is under threat from a President-elect who is a frequent admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although it was never publicly said, it was clear that behind-the-scenes, Downing Street was hoping for Hillary Clinton’s election as the 45th President of the US.

Here The Independent looks at several areas that could be a cause for concern for Ms May once Donald Trump enters the White House at the beginning of next year.

Climate change

The concept of global warming was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive” wrote Mr Trump in 2012. Two years later, he added: “Windmills are the greatest threat in the US to both bald and golden eagles. Media claims fictional ‘global warming’ is worse’.

Then there’s Sarah Palin, who has previously expressed a degree of interest in a vacancy for the Energy Secretary position in a Trump administration. However, she admitted she would not in the job very long, adding: “If I were head of that, I’d get rid of it”.

"Energy is my baby," she added. "Oil and gas and minerals — those things that God has dumped on this part of the earth for mankind's use instead of us relying on unkind foreign nations for us to import their resources."

Theresa May 'looks forward' to working with Donald Trump

It is clear that Mr Trump’s election as the next US President will usher in a period of uncertainty and trepidation among climate change experts. The long sought after Paris agreement on climate change – marking the first time governments have agreed legally binding limits to temperature rises across the planet – will also be thrown into question.

Reacting to Mr Trump’s victory, Friends of the Earth described his election as a “major threat to our climate and future well-being for generations to come”.

They added: “But thankfully the clean energy revolution is now unstoppable. And we’ll always have Paris, which commits the rest of the international community to climate action. If Mr Trump chooses to disengage then he will hand the next industrial revolution lock, stock and barrel to China.

Brexit and trade deals

In Hillary Clinton, Ms May could have had a major world leader on her side during the negotiations with credibility – and one that is well known on the international stage after her time as Secretary of State under Mr Obama.

And while Barack Obama personally intervened in the European Union referendum campaign and urged the British public to remain in the bloc, Mr Trump had called for Britain to leave adding the decision to give refuge to millions of migrants was a “disaster”. It is not clear whether America’s new President will have any interest in the Brext negotiations.

Despite the President-elect rebuffing Mr Obama’s insistence that Britain would go to the “back of the queue” for a new trade deal if the public voted to leave the EU, it is clear Mr Trump has not always been the most ardent advocator of free trade. He had previously told CBS news he wanted to rip up the “disaster” North American Free Trade Agreement and enact tariffs. For the time being, at least, a free trade deal with the US after Brexit is an uncertain prospect.

Nato and defence

The North Atlantic Treaty Organsation (Nato) could face an uncertain future following Mr Trump’s election – and there may be pressure on government’s to increase their defence expenditure after Mr Trump used the presidential debates to claim European countries were not paying their dues.

The billionaire businessman has also previously suggested the US may not automatically defend its Nato allies under attack – despite Article 5, the collective defence clause, being a key tenant of the organisation.

Mr Trump made the controversial suggestion in an interview with the New York Times. “We have many Nato members that aren’t paying the bills,” he said after being asked whether he would come to the aid, militarily, of Eastern European countries if Russia came over the border.

He added: “You can’t forget the bills. They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.”

Russia

It is clear that some Government ministers are concerned about Mr Trump’s relationship with Russia. Following his electoral victory on Tuesday, the Russian President was one of the first world leaders to congratulate him.

Mr Trump’s apparent willingness to dismiss intelligence that Russia was behind a series of cyber-attacks could become a source of tension in the “special relationship” with the US and Britain.

Just last week in an extraordinary intervention the head of the Mi5 said Russia is becoming "increasingly aggressive" and is willing to use "propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks" against countries including the UK.

In the statement posted on the Kremlin website on Wednesday, it said Mr Putin had sent the new American President-elect a telegram expressing his hope that they could work together to restore US-Russian relations from their current “state of crisis”.

The Kremlin had been widely thought to favour Mr Trump in the US election, believing Hillary Clinton would adopt a more confrontational approach to Russia while her Republican Party rival has expressed his admiration for Mr Putin.

Iran Nuclear Deal

The landmark nuclear deal with Iran, touted by the Obama administration as a “historic understanding”, saw sanctions against the country lifted in exchange for gurantees it would not pursue nuclear weapons.

President Hassan Rouhani said the deal “opened new windows of engagement with the world” and the country should “get ready to seize the opportunity to make an economic leap and development”.

But for Mr Trump the deal – welcomed by the British government – said it was the “worst deal I think I’ve ever seen negotiated” and dismantling it would be his “number one priority”.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments