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    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) shakes hands with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during a meeting in Trudeau's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, September 18, 2017.

    UK-Canada Boeing Spat: Political Weakness Compels Nationalism in Trade

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    British Prime Minister Theresa May, dependent on Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists in UK Parliament, has lined up with Canada against a leading US aerospace manufacturer.

    The vulnerability of Theresa May's Conservative government to the wishes of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has led to her siding with Canada and its leading aerospace exporter Bombardier, Northern Ireland's largest manufacturing employer, against Boeing in a trade dispute.

    Since losing their majority in the June elections, the Conservatives have made major concessions to the DUP for infrastructure funding of up to £1 billion (US$1,4bn) for Northern Ireland, in exchange for their support in parliament, enabling the Tories to hold onto power.

    Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, poses for a photograph with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Leader Arlene Foster, Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds, and Chief Whip Jeffrey Donaldson, outside 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain June 26, 2017.
    © REUTERS/ Neil Hall
    Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, poses for a photograph with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Leader Arlene Foster, Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds, and Chief Whip Jeffrey Donaldson, outside 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain June 26, 2017.

    The loss of support from the 10 DUP MPs in parliament, which puts the Conservatives just on the 326 seats necessary to prevent a collapse of the government, would immediately lead to a new general election.

    This is a July 25, 2016 file photo of of Arlene Foster, left, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, during a meeting in Belfast.
    © AP Photo/ Charles McQuillan
    This is a July 25, 2016 file photo of of Arlene Foster, left, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, during a meeting in Belfast.

    One of the DUP's potential sticking points with the Conservatives is their support for a "soft Brexit" to protect jobs in Northern Ireland. From the prime minister's perspective, anything that threatens employment in Northern Ireland, threatens her whole government.

    The May-Trudeau-Trump Axis

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, September 18, insisted that his country will not do business with Boeing while the US company is trying to sue Bombardier, Canada's largest aerospace manufacturer.

    His unusually strong rhetoric came amid Theresa May's visit to Canada, during which she reportedly committed to raising the issue in her meetings with US President Donald Trump.

    According to Boeing, Bombardier has benefited from unfair government subsidies, enabling it to sell aircraft to airlines within the US such as Delta.

    Prime Minister Trudeau's additional threats to walk away from a Super-hornet fighter deal with Boeing if the dispute continues, together with May's hinting at possible curbs on procurement from the company may be seen to resemble Donald Trump's own "America First" economic platform.

    The business press has warned about the potential return of nationalistically driven economic policies since at least the 2008 global financial crisis. The "Buy American, Hire American" formula, something that former US President Obama rejected, has become increasingly politically useful, even necessary in the US and other first-world economies.

    Both Canada and the UK are keen to protect domestic employment and this common interest appears to have brought two relatively smaller economic powers together against the industry's largest manufacturer and the world's largest economy, the US.

    For May, the continued activity of Bombardier in Northern Ireland may be tied not just to her government's survival, but that of her own political career as well. 

    Related:

    The Boeing-Bombardier Feud: 'Rich of US to Accuse Canada of Subsidizing'
    Democratic Unionist Party Agrees on Principles of Deal to Support Tories
    Theresa May's Deal With the DUP - Mad, Bad, and Extremely Sad
    Tags:
    Brexit, nationalism, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Bombardier, Boeing, Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump, Theresa May, Britain, Canada, United States, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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