Theresa May – people and nations are measured by the company they keep

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Sunday 29 January 2017 16:56
Theresa May attends a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Theresa May attends a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Great Britain is shamed by Theresa May’s eagerness to kowtow, in search of trade, to two leaders of dubious character and suspect political motives. The perennial flaunting by our leaders of the supposed Special Relationship (which means nothing to most Americans) is a continuing embarrassment to many Brits. Of course we have ties of language, culture and history with the US, and there are many Anglophile East Coast liberals. But Middle America is often very different, and we should remember 20th century history. America stayed out of most of the Great War and two years of WW2 (only provoked by Pearl Harbour), whilst Britain’s economy was shattered by the cost of fighting European wars almost alone. The Americans then sustained the UK with huge loans which took decades to pay off, blighting post war Britain, whilst defeated Europe was showered with Marshall Plan largesse.

It is difficult not to see the collapse of colonialism (which was certainly overdue) and the weakening of Britain’s commercial empire as a deliberate strategy on the part of early 20th century US politicians. So are we really such special friends of the US?

Of course we still have big financial interests in the US, and there is no doubt scope for some more trade. But America will always do what is best for the US; and Trump, to be fair to him, has been more explicit about this than previous presidents. Theresa May knows that with an almost certain reduction in trade with Europe and significant loss of income from the City, not to mention defecting car manufacturers, etc, there is going to be a huge gap in our balance of payments to fill. But she should be much more wary in any US trade negotiations of all the potential traps, in the face of predatory and powerful American corporations in agriculture, food, health, pharmaceuticals, education, etc. A deal at any price could be disastrous for the UK.

And as for Erdogan, he is in the process of becoming a de facto dictator. Turkey has abused human rights for decades, and he is doing so with a cherry on top. He has discriminated against a large Kurdish minority for years and has played a very duplicitous role in the Syrian conflict. Now we are talking about selling arms to him! Both the UK and Europe should be keeping Turkey very much at arms-length unless and until that regime changes for the better. Unfortunately we have a track record of selling arms to some of the most unpleasant regimes on earth.

Neither of these leaders shares Great Britain’s or Europe’s human rights ideals or liberal values. Is this really the agenda that Brexit supporters voted for? We all agree that there are serious flaws in the EU institutions and bureaucracy. If only a succession of British politicians had taken a less scornful and more engaged and proactive attitude to Europe, building alliances with the major players, we could have been at the centre helping to reform it. Now it seems we cannot wait to get away from our nearest neighbours with whom we do so much trade, whose countries we love visiting, whose citizens love working here, and with whom we have arguably even stronger cultural ties.

I am not surprised that many in Europe are fed up with the UK, a minority of whose xenophobes just might in the end prove to have torpedoed the whole European project.

Gavin Turner

Trump is recognised for what he is by all thinking men and women in the USA and across the world. His actions now to confirm our worst fears about him.

President Erdogan of Turkey has arrested 35,000 people who tried to oppose him. 6,000 of these people are still in prison.

Theresa May’s first foreign visits have been to embrace both of these evil men in an attempt to win friends and cut trade deals as we walk away from our neighbours in Europe.

She has confirmed an arms deal with Erdogan worth £100m. These fighter bombers may be used by Erdogan to blow away all hope of a free and independent Kurdistan.

It is shameful for our nation to walk away from our neighbours in Europe and then embrace these men in order to build “alternative” trade relationships.

Theresa May – people and nations are measured by the company they keep.

Martin Deighton
Address supplied

After diplomatic missions to India and courting President Trump (I do hope she washed that hand) it appears Theresa May’s next best option is to have an economic treaty with Turkey? Is this perhaps the same Turkey whose perceived desire to join the European Economic Union was held up by those campaigning for a Leave vote as yet another – ultimately false – reason why the UK should leave the EU?

The same Turkey that has since the June Referendum undergone a significant shift towards a theistic dictatorship?

So we could now end up with trading preferences with a USA which is developing into a Christian fundamentalist nation and Turkey already morphing itself to into an equally Muslim one? The UK can through these appear only fundamentally ridiculous and have even fewer bargaining options with the remaining 27 EU nations.

How can the wishes of those that voted to leave the EU be upheld when the UK ends up with free immigration from India and Turkey as a consequence of opening “new trading frontiers”, rather than from European countries? Even UKIP would surely baulk at these new horizons for the UK.

Alistair Vincent

We must boycott America in protest

Anyone rightly appalled by the blanket ban on Muslims entering America should consider boycotting the country if they are planning to visit there in the future, for as long as the ban remains in place. Once the hotels and resorts feel the financial effects of Trump's policies, pressure will be employed to reverse them and from what we are told of President Trump’s notoriously thin skin, he will be seriously discomfited having to do a U turn.

As Robert Fisk wrote, if there are queues for Muslims, Christians and Others, and we joined the Others line, we are colluding in this discrimination.

Patrick Cleary

Get on with your jobs

Could politicians please stop tweeting, and instead spend the time reflecting

Anthony Tilke
Den Haag, Netherlands

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