Boris Johnson’s aversion to the term special relationship to Britain’s ties to the United States, because he thinks it makes the UK look “needy”, is bizarre. It plays into the hands of the left, which has been mocking and denying the very concept of a special relationship for years, and contradicting the real experience of Anglo-American relations since even before Boris’ hero Winston Churchill did invents the expression in its iron curtain. speech given in Fulton, Missouri, three quarters of a century ago, in March 1946.
Equally bizarrely, Boris contradicts the Queen, who said at the State Banquet during President George W Bush’s 2003 State Visit, “Despite occasional criticism of the term, I think it describes our friendship. Like all special friends, we can speak openly and may disagree from time to time – sometimes even falling out on a particular issue. But the depth and breadth of our partnership means that disputes can be quickly overcome and forgiven. “
It is always dangerous to prophesy anything in international relations, but I predict that at the end of Boris’ tenure as Prime Minister, which I hope will be of record duration, something will happen that will rekindle her clearly waning belief in the special relationship. His obituary has been written so many times over the past three quarters of a century, but events constantly revive and underline what His Majesty has called “the depth and breadth of our partnership.”
Right now, the impertinent and unwarranted approach the US Embassy has made to the UK government about the Northern Ireland Protocol – on the eve of the G7 summit, all the inappropriate times – shows precisely how friends specials can “fall out to publish.” For a country that has lost as many as 700,000 of its own citizens in a civil war over whether it should remain unified now to encourage Ulster to be alienated in the trade from the rest of the UK is obtuse, but as special friends “we can speak frankly and may disagree from time to time”.
There will come a time in Biden’s presidency when he will notice the same truth that almost all presidents recognize at some point: that Britain can be trusted in a big business the same way France can, l ‘Germany and other allies cannot. And when Britain isn’t next to America – like Vietnam – it’s usually because the effort isn’t as great as it seemed at the time. Even Barack Obama, who began his presidency as a lover of Great Britain, in 2011 raised a toast “To Her Majesty the Queen, to the vitality of the privileged relations between our peoples”.
Likewise, Boris will undoubtedly discover – especially in a post-Brexit world where China and Russia are becoming increasingly brazen and threatening – that there is nothing necessary to rely on the countries of Anglosphere which most closely resemble Britain in terms of law, language and common history, including the United States.
Unlike the European NATO countries, virtually none of which reach the 2% of GDP devoted to defense to which they have committed, the United States spends more than 5%, and is the bulwark that protects us from the rise. of totalitarianism in the world today. There’s a difference between needing something and being in need, and Britain is on the right side of that divide, but we need the United States, and they need us.
With Germany on the Russian Nordstream 2 pipeline, which the United States has given up on sanctioning, or President Macron saying the EU should be “equidistant” between the United States and China, Biden will admit, as almost all of his predecessors have done with the exception of Lyndon Johnson. , that Britain is a much better ally than any of the alternatives available. The sheer volume of our mutual trade, the interplay of our nuclear cooperation and intelligence agencies, the sheer “depth and breadth of our partnership” outweighs any left-wing fantasy of our appearance “in the need ”.
At a time when Liz Truss is making superb post-Brexit trade deals such as the recent one with Australia, highlighting the continued strength of the Anglosphere and the enormous benefits of freer and easier trade between English-speaking countries, he is strange that Boris should downplay the special relationship. Bright days are yet to come, but also maybe days of testing as Vladimir Putin is on the loose and President Xi prepares for at least regional domination.
As a biographer of Churchill himself, Boris will be well acquainted with Churchill’s words in the Iron Curtain Speech 75 years ago. “Neither the sure prevention of war, nor the continued rise of world organization will be achieved without what I have called the fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples. It signifies a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States. The Empire is gone, but the special relationship continues, not only for the sake of the people of Britain and America, but also for the sake of mankind. No need, but necessary.
Andrew Roberts is the author of ‘Churchill: Walking with Destiny’