Ron DeSantis Presidency would prioritise ‘EU over UK’

Any hope of a US-UK free trade deal for Brexit Britain looks to be dead on arrival – and is unlikely to be helped if 2024 favorite Ron DeSantis becomes President, analysts say.

That is because the fresh-faced Florida governor, widely seen as Donald Trump’s biggest rival in the Republican party, will prioritize Latin American countries closer to the US, it is suggested.

Professor Iwan Morgan at UCL’s Institute for the Americas told DeSantis is more likely to strike a deal with the European Union, with the UK slipping further and further down the US list of priorities.

Donald Trump is the only declared Republican candidate for the 2024 White House race, but many pundits point to DeSantis as a viable challenger.

The 44-year-old stormed to victory in the Sunshine State gubernatorial race in November.

“DeSantis is an unknown quantity insofar as international issues are concerned. If he puts his hat in the ring, expect him to visit Europe to boost his international profile. But don’t expect him to be an Anglophile on the matter of trade,” Professor Morgan said.

With Florida’s large Hispanic population and cultural ties to Latin America, DeSantis would be expected to look to the Spanish-speaking world for business.

Prof Morgan added: “DeSantis would also be likely to look South to Latin America to develop trade links given Florida’s pivotal significance as a US hub to South American countries.”

He added: “Basically the UK is low down on US priorities in terms of trade. The EU is much higher up the totem.”

Another analyst agreed that DeSantis is more likely to look south in his approach to foreign policy.

Professor Daniel Drache, a political scientist at York University in Toronto, said the first foreign policy move would be stopping or limiting immigration at the US-Mexico border. Biden has been slammed by Republicans over what they claim is an “open” southern border.

However, DeSantis would have to develop other goals for the United States abroad which would likely see him “hawkish” on issues such as curbing China’s influence as well as North Korea and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Prof Drache added: “Foreign policy would focus on the war against China, the attempt to encircle China. They would be more hawkish on Taiwan.

“On Iran, certainly there would be no renegotiating of the nuclear deal that was reached [in 2015]. They would be hawkish on Cuba. Again, North Korea would be another enemy. I think they would concentrate on an enemies list.”

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A DeSantis Presidency would likely eschew any deal with Britain, but what about other prominent Republicans tipped to run against Trump?

Professor Morgan sees Ted Cruz as unlikely because his MAGA political leanings would see him take a tough stance on food standards – a sticking point in negotiations.

Nikki Haley, a former UN Ambassador under Trump, could potentially be Britain’s best shot at a deal due to her “international background”, according to Morgan.

Haley was Ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, however, she is very unlikely to win the nomination. If she did run Morgan warned she “would not want to look too Anglo-centric”.

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Prof Drache agreed that any Republican candidate is unlikely to sign a deal with the UK and even Democrats were unlikely to budge as both parties had become “protectionist”, focusing inwards on domestic policies rather than foreign trade.

However, former National Security advisor John Bolton previously told that a deal between the US and Britain should have already been signed.

He said he urged Liz Truss, who was Secretary of State for International Trade at the time, to seal a deal before the 2020 election.

Bolton has since teased a presidential run. With foreign policy sure to be a major focus of any Bolton presidency, it’s possible that a US-UK deal would emerge.

For now it appears Brexit Britain will have to wait for a more suitable political climate before the Americans are willing to sign a bilateral trade deal.

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