BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
With invoking Article 50 now out of the way, Britain’s negotiators will be hoping to agree divorce with the EU at the same time as deciding on a trade agreement. Both are huge challenges and Prime Minister Theresa May was right to warn of “bumps in the road” ahead.
While eyes are focused on Europe, now is the time to also look West across the Atlantic and at Donald Trump’s nascent administration in the White House. In late January, Trump spoke of offering the UK a new trade deal and work began immediately on a new negotiating pact to pave the way for a full trade deal to come into force after Brexit. At the time, Theresa May sounded an optimistic note: “this is the first step leading to a future trade deal with the US which could provide huge benefits to our economic muscle and will give businesses additional certainty and confidence.”
While a strengthening of the special relationship and a free trade deal with the United States are both potentially great leaps forward for Britain, Britain’s brave Brexit has also left the United States in a strong position to negotiate terms. If the US economy rises, as expected, over the next years while the trade agreement is being discussed, the US will be in an even stronger negotiating position. However, squeezing her old ally Britain in terms of mere trade would be unwise for the United States, not just relative to soft power, at a time when friends around the world – let alone friends of President Trump – are in short supply.
Instead, there is a more profound win-win on the table here. Thanks to the Trump White House getting it.
Whether we Britons like to hear it or not, Britain is the greatest threat to the United States in terms of national security. Not Russia, in spite of the recent hullabaloo. Canada may well replace Britain soon as the hotbed of Islamist extremism with most access to the US but for now plots like the liquid bomb plot, radical entities flourishing on UK soil and Britain’s West-detesting closed Muslim communities, when combined with the visa waiver system (in spite of ESTA), represent a significant threat to American lives.
While the British could be offered a bargain basement trade deal by the United States, it would be wiser for the Americans to offer the British a veritable cornucopia of a trade deal – most favoured status compared to the EU – but with strings attached.
What might these strings attached be?
- An enforcement of a compulsory UK ID card/passport system, as Britain again becomes a fully-functioning sovereign state and resumes stricter control of its borders.
- The removal of counter extremism powers to a body distinct from Government. Redirection of counter extremism funds away from Islamist fronts and into the hands of investigators and law enforcement.
- With Britain no longer hamstrung by EU laws, there are opportunities to look at revoking citizenship for known extremists and terrorists. The US should insist on a new and effective citizenship paradigm.
- Permission for the US security apparatus to operate in greater numbers and with greater resource on British soil. To form a US security beach-head in Britain, which can then penetrate the increasingly overwhelmed European lands in a spirit of trust and assistance, alongside investment of dollars.
- Insistence that Britain deep reviews its Charities Commission listings of Islamic Charities, which is out of control. That monies associated with jihadi operations, filtered through charities to terrorist entities, often under the disguise of helping refugees, are – where relevant – seized and cadres prosecuted.
- That media operations run by extremist Islamists from the UK are shut down and satellite and web access to the worst of foreign radicalising media becomes limited.
- That Prevent gets opened up to US cooperation and its tendency to employ former radicals (many are still caliphate-dreaming Islamists) as staff, especially in interviewing Daesh returnees, is curtailed.
- That Prevent’s failing strategy working in prisons is ended. The US can offer to build and operate the types of prisons the world needs to nip radicalisation in the bud.
- That there is actual enforcement of local council regulation of places of worship, schools and similar entities. There are an estimated 120 madrasa schools in the Borough of Newham alone, which are flouting planning laws and Ofsted merely by branding themselves as centres. The local Labour administration – and Mayor Khan’s office – know about these breaches but turn a blind eye for block votes. Meanwhile kids go to school then get brainwashed every night, often by unqualified extremist “teachers” at such madrasas. So the conveyor belt continues.
- To license imams. Like priests and vicars, these religious leaders must have attended lengthy courses which are approved to attain a license to preach. Many today are uneducated and the “sheikh” or “mufti” title is a worthless, self-appointed one. Refusal to do so should remove preaching rights and the charity status of the entities to which they are linked. Some sects could possibly be excluded, such as the Ahmadis. Those who shout loud about irritating Muslim communities are appeasers, or Islamists.
- A crackdown on the conveyor belts: Hizb ut Tahrir, the Muslim Brotherhood and especially on the benefits reliance of the Tablighi, which in itself is doing more harm to social cohesion in Britain right now than any other one single group.
- A crackdown on the facilitators: hawala networks and undiyal (Tamil Tiger hawala) which flourish, particularly in London.
- A crackdown on the fronts: CAGE in particular.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Trade is important but freedom is far more vital. Here, they can compliment each other in a positive trade-off. The United States, by permitting British appeasement of Islamist extremism, is an appeaser herself. This is not a good look.
Fortunately, these are no longer the days of Obama. Kill two birds with one stone now and the increasing numbers of Britons who comprehend the severity of their plight will be forever grateful to their American cousins as together we build a better future for our children and grandchildren.