Stories by Erik Brattberg

Expert Voices

Trump’s U.K. state visit puts “special relationship” to the test

Donald Trump and Theresa May seated next to each other at a conference table
President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 2018. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

State visits by American presidents in the U.K. are typically smooth sailing, but a combination of British political events and bilateral tensions could unsettle President Trump's current trip.

The big picture: Trump arrives in London amid the upheavals of the unresolved Brexit issue, a Conservative Party leadership crisis and the sizable win for far-right leader Nigel Farage’s party in the European parliamentary elections. His commentary on the politics of Brexit has not always been welcome, and disputes over Huawei and other foreign policy issues have added to the strain.

Expert Voices

A no-deal Brexit would be a geopolitical crisis

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions, London on January 9, 2019.
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street on Jan. . Photo: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The House of Commons will vote on Jan. 15 on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement with the EU. If the agreement fails to gain support — a likely outcome — the specter of a no-deal Brexit will loom as the March 29 deadline approaches.

Why it matters: The prospect of a no-deal Brexit is alarming for both economic and geopolitical reasons. It would propel the U.K. out of the EU’s single market, roiling the U.K.’s economy and causing trade chaos with the EU. The Bank of England predicts an immediate 8% drop in British GDP under this scenario.

Expert Voices

Merkel's coalition agrees to migration terms as pressures across EU persist

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer after the arrival for the weekly government cabinet meeting on June 13, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in a cabinet meeting on June 13, 2018. Photo: Carsten Koall via Getty Images

EU leaders agreed last week on proposals for its ongoing migration challenges, including questions around migrant processing centers both on the continent and in North Africa and policies for moving migrants among EU countries. On top of this, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also managed to stitch together a number of bilateral agreements with individual EU countries on returning migrants in exchange for assistance.

Why it matters: While not a comprehensive solution, the agreements will restore a degree of stability to Berlin and give Merkel breathing room. Yet they prompted pushback, including a resignation threat from Interior Minister Horst Seehofer that was later revoked.