Several former British diplomats have commented on the possible implications of the presidential election in the US on the UK, revealing that the victory of either of the two candidates will bear bad news for London.
In comments made for Cambridge University’s Centre for Geopolitics, several diplomats highlighted the destructive role that US President Donald Trump presumably played in terms of western unity. The former head of MI6 and ambassador to the UN, Sir John Sawers, stressed that Trump has always been difficult to deal with as he has little faith in alliances and agreements that have been in place for decades.
"He does not really feel that sense of being part of that transatlantic community, he does not really believe in alliances. He does not really believe in American leadership in the world", Sawers said.
Sawers went on to say that if Trump gets re-elected, the UK will have to build closer ties to Europe as it will no longer be able to rely on the US. Another diplomat, former secretary of international development, Rory Stewart, believes the implications of Trump's re-election for the UK and specifically for its diplomacy will be much tougher.
Stewart suggested that the US will cut any special ties it had with the UK during a second Trump administration and that for the first time in a long period British diplomacy would have to work out how "an independent policy" feels like. The diplomat explained that right now the Foreign Office is building its work relying on the US and the latter's foreign policy.
"If we were to move away from the US, and Trump obviously poses the challenge that that may have to happen, we are going to find ourselves in a situation in which much of our Foreign Office infrastructure had been predicated on working very closely with the US for a very long time. If we have to move away from the US, it will involve a much bigger shift in national security infrastructure than we have ever experienced", Stewart forecasted.
Yet, a Joe Biden victory would not mean a return to the good old days for UK diplomacy either, Stewart added, noting that London would not be able to simply return to normalcy with the US even under a new president.
One former UK diplomat explained in an anonymous comment for The Guardian that Biden might inherit an approach from his old running mate, Barack Obama, and rather consider contacting Germany or France, than the UK, when seeking advice from Europe. The diplomat noted that if London seeks to restore ties with the US under Biden, then it would need to "get the right sort of leadership in Europe".
Before the latest wave of protests and riots rocked the US, most polls indicated that Biden has a small lead over President Donald Trump. The latter recently faced criticism not only over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but also for his calls to deploy the military to quell domestic unrest. It's yet unclear how much his reaction to the protests against police brutality and negligence towards the lives of African Americans will affect his ratings.