In the United Kingdom, a first post-Brexit diplomatic success, but at what cost?



British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on September 16.


© Hannah Mckay
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on September 16.

We would have bet. In the UK, everything, but then really everything, is seen, interpreted and presented in the light of Brexit. Finally, all that is positive. The development of the first anti-Covid vaccine? A vaccination campaign started with fanfare ? A pint of beer at just the right temperature or a ray of sunshine on the roof of Big Ben? Thanks Brexit!

On the other hand, anything negative has nothing to do with leaving the European Union. Are the shortages in stores on the increase? Customs fees exploded? The lack of manpower and in particular of truck drivers, thus leading to delays in deliveries? Nothing to see, regularly asserts the British government. Marks and Spencer blames Brexitand the difficulties related to its application for the closure of eleven of its stores in France? Boris Johnson’s troops believe M&S has not gotten it right. And too bad for the British in France and the French in love with England weeping and deprived of their Worcestershire sauce, scones and Marmite!

Simply a lie

The thunderous announcement, at a late hour and almost indecent for Europeans, but suitable for US President Joe Biden, of the strategic agreement with the United States and Australia on the construction of nuclear submarines, unsurprisingly received the “Thank you Brexit” stamp, on the way to becoming a registered trademark. The spokesperson for Downing Street did not hesitate to welcome this spectacular announcement: “I will not deny the fact that we have been able to act in this way, because we are no longer members of the European Union and it is in the interests of the United Kingdom.”

Video: The United Kingdom will send four million doses to Australia (Le Figaro)

UK to send four million doses to Australia

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Which, of course, not only doesn’t mean anything but is in fact quite simply a lie. The foreign policy of a state remains a national competence, which implies that any member of the EU, and therefore the United Kingdom if it had remained within the club, could have signed such a strategic agreement. Besides… Oh yes, France had in fact signed such an agreement with Australia, denounced yesterday with fanfare. Let’s move on.

Snub series

What is true, is that for the post-Brexit UK, well isolated on the international scene for a year, this announcement represents a first real diplomatic success. A first step towards this state so much vaunted by Boris Johnson, the “Global Britain”, a United Kingdom open to the rest of the world, in particular its former colonies, the Commonwealth countries, such as Australia, and the United States, the big brother, the special friend, the obvious ally. The reality is a little more subtle. This success comes after a series of direct snapshots of the new American presidency, little seduced by Boris Johnson’s round legs, a few months after the latter’s stuck to Donald Trump. The Afghan episode, where the British, like the rest of the Western allies, were royally ignored by the Americans, was seen across the Channel as a real humiliation.

But now, in the meantime, Joe Biden has understood that using the United Kingdom as an intermediary to get closer to Australia and strengthen its presence in the Pacific could be useful. He hissed. Boris Johnson has arrived. The British Prime Minister has already proven on multiple occasions that he was ready to do anything to justify his choice of 2016. Pushed on his soil, while he has just operated a reshuffle of his government without any luster, he needed of this diplomatic coup. Good game !

But at what cost ? The gap is widening even more with the Europeans, and especially with France, however a very precious strategic military ally. The ties are still straining a little. But Boris Johnson does not care. Its Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace, has tried to appease French anger a little in the face of what is perceived as a very unfair trickery. “This is not a betrayal. […] I understand the disappointment of the French, but there was no sneaky maneuver in hiding “, he defended himself. Given the amazement of the French authorities, it is permissible to doubt.

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