Archives par mot-clé : brexit

Anglo-American relations 2.0: pressing the reset button?

Valérie AndréAix Marseille Université, LERMA, OREMA, Aix-en-Provence, France 

             The results of the 2020 US presidential election sent the British media into a frenzy of anticipation over the state of the special relationship. The news that Boris Johnson was among the first world leaders to have received a phone call from the President-elect was received with a sigh of relief, even if it didn’t entirely assuage all fears. The level of anxiety had been running especially high as the British Prime Minister was deemed to have enjoyed an exceptionally close personal relationship with Donald Trump. Memories of Boris Johnson’s hobnobbing with the President at international conferences, of Donald Trump’s public support for Johnson’s bid for the leadership of the Conservative party in the summer of 2019 and for a tougher stance in the Brexit negotiations, as well as of all the swagger and bluster on either side of the Atlantic, were seen as millstones round the Prime Minister’s neck which would drag him – and the United Kingdom – down to the bottom of the queue. The similarities between the leaders’ personal and political lives, two insiders running as outsiders, mavericks who had risen to the top of their own parties through pandering to the tastes of the rank and file and of an unusual electoral base, the echoing political slogans “America First” and “Take Back Control”, the readiness to resort to ‘alternative facts’, all could conspire to wrongfoot the British Prime Minister. If the tide had turned with Joe Biden’s victory it was feared that Boris Johnson would be left on the wrong side of history, in the company of those ‘strong leaders’ Donald Trump had taken a liking to.

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The British presence in the Mediterranean post-Brexit

Matthew Graves, Aix-Marseille Université, LERMA, Aix-en-Provence, France

When the then UK Minister of Defence Geoff Hoon attended the tercentenary celebrations of British rule over Gibraltar in the summer of 2004, the Spanish Foreign Secretary objected to London’s insensitivity towards Madrid’s sovereign claim in blunt terms: “It turns out to be very strange that in this 21st century, the military occupation of part of an EU member-state’s territory is commemorated by another member-state.”[i] Although a Downing Street spokesman downplayed the incident, affirming that Britain and Spain enjoyed “a good relationship (…) They are an EU and NATO partner”[ii], the commemorations came in the wake of the 2002 referendum on the Rock which saw nearly 99% of Gibraltarians reject shared British-Spanish sovereignty. Fourteen years later, Gibraltar voted once again near unanimously (96%) in favour of Remain in the EU referendum of 2016, but this time the self-governing British Overseas Territory, one of two in the Mediterranean alongside the sovereign bases of Cyprus to share land borders with EU member states, found itself at odds with the majority of UK voters who voted by a slender 4% margin in favour of Leave, albeit with the notable exceptions of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Today as the transition period for the United Kingdom and European Union to reach an agreement on their future trade and security relationship is fast approaching, Gibraltar epitomises the challenges facing British diplomacy in the Mediterranean now that it can no longer appeal to EU partnership with the riparian countries of southern Europe to leaven its strategic presence. 

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