Donald Trump’s kinship with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be put to test this weekend as leaders of the world’s most affluent countries convene in Biarritz, France.
Johnson is Trump’s only natural ally among G7 nations – a group comprised of Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the US, the UK and Japan – and the two leaders have been strategizing in weekly calls for the past month.
‘He and I are very much aligned. We feel very good about each other,’ Trump said last week.
In his trade stand-off with Beijing, the U.S. leader may find no better backer than the newly-ascendant Johnson, who is still considering whether to join Trump’s crusade against Chinese telecom firm Huawei.
Donald Trump’s kinship with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be put to test this weekend as leaders of the world’s most affluent countries convene in Biarritz, France
Johnson is Trump’s only natural ally among G7 nations – a group comprised of Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the US, the UK and Japan. The UK prime minister is pictured Friday in England
KEEP OUT: Biarritz is on high alert ahead of the G7, inconveniencing tourists in the area’s high season
A view shows the beach and the Hotel du Palais summit venue ahead of the G7 summit
A self-defined nationalist who has broken with fellow leaders on climate change, Russian aggression and the Iranian nuclear pact, Trump’s rejection of globalism and his distaste for multinational organizations is likely to leave him feeling unexpectedly isolated, even with Johnson at the negotiating table.
‘We’re obviously going to continue to see some really serious divergences,’ Leslie Vinjamuri, a senior fellow on US-UK relations at Chatham House, told DailyMail.com. ‘ ‘You can’t sort of wait it out for your friends to take office. Britain is a democracy with it’s own set of interests.’
The UK has remained steadfast in its partnership with regional allies on core issues, although Johnson’s interest in European priorities like global warming is softer than his immediate predecessors. That support is unlikely to change even after Brexit.
On economic basics, Trump and Johnson have the same general worldview.
‘And that’s really all we care about,’ White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Thursday of the U.S. agenda at the secluded conference.
Trump will be heralding a pro-jobs, pro-growth agenda centered on free, fair and reciprocal trade, another senior administration official said, outlining a U.S. push to return to the mandate of the group that’s comprised of the world’s most advanced economies.
The G7 began as a response to the oil crisis and has grown to address issues related to foreign policy, the official told journalists on a call previewing the summit. ‘But really the core is about global growth and the state the of economy.’
A summit agenda skews in the direction of liberal initiatives that Emmanuel Macron has championed such income and gender equality and the health and protection of the planet.
It begins Saturday evening with a greeting and informal dinner for visiting heads of state and their top aides and concludes Monday with unilateral press conferences.
African leaders from five nations, the Australian prime minister, India’s prime minister and the Chilean president have also been invited to join talks in the seaside resort town that’s a haven for celebrities and well-to-do tourists.
In addition to the private working sessions, Trump will hold one-offs with most of his counterparts, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Macron, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, India’s Narendra Modi and the UK’s Johnson.
Each of those talks has a separate agenda that’s catered to participating nations.
Merkel can expect another lecture from Trump on LNG and Germany’s reliance on Russia for natural gas and the U.S. for military support, even as it fails to meet its the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s recommended contribution threshold.
Protests in Hong Kong will take center stage in a scheduled bilat with Trudeau.
Canada has more than 300,000 expats living in the autonomous region of China, and it’s government is helping to lead a pressure campaign on Beijing to maintain Hong Kong’s constitutional rights and keep the peace.
Trump will dedicate a meeting with Modi to the conflict Kashimir, which he called ‘explosive’ this week as he offered to mediate peace talks.
‘Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus and you have the Muslims, and I wouldn’t say they get along so great. And that’s what you have right now,’ the U.S. president said.
In his first in-person conversation with Johnson since the conservative replaced Theresa May as prime minister, the White House said that Trump will seek to improve ‘ongoing very close partnership that that the US and UK enjoy’ and work toward a free trade agreement with Britain.
‘We’re very enthusiastic about that prospect,’ a senior U.S. official said in a G7 preview for U.S. press on Thursday.
Trump’s backing in a deal or no deal exit from the EU has created an opening for a return to the ‘special relationship’ between the countries that soured when May was in office.
A diplomatic row at the end of her tenure brought about the resignation of the British ambassador after The Daily Mail revealed his unflattering portrayal of Trump in private cables. Trump lashed out at May in tweets for fumbling Brexit, as he demanded the diplomat’s head.
His anger has calmed with the election of Johnson, whom he’d said he’d prefer to work with. The leaders have spoken on the phone four times in as many weeks about a trade agreement and Brexit.
‘They’re probably — I don’t want to say our “closest,” because I don’t want to insult other people, but certainly — or countries — but certainly they’re one of our closest allies anywhere in the world,’ the U.S. president told DailyMail.com and other reporters last Thursday.
He added, ‘And we’re going to have a fantastic relationship with UK. And we’re going to have a great trade deal with UK. And that’s moving along rapidly.’
Put another way: ‘This is as good its going to get for this American president, in terms of a leader that he can work with in Europe,’ Vinjamuri said.
Trump has forged an a closer-than-anticipated bond with Macron, in spite of their ideological differences. He’s traveled to France on three other occasions in the two years since the 41-year-old populist took office and named him the guest of honor at his first and only White House state dinner.
Their relationship was under strain this week, however, after the White House claimed that Macron introduced the idea of Russia rejoining the G7, in spite of the ongoing occupation of Crimea, in a phone call with Trump in advance of the summit that France is hosting this year for the sixth time since the group’s launch in 1975.
Macron subsequently told reporters that it would be a ‘strategic error’ and ‘signing off the weakness of the G7’ for Russia to be invited without preconditions.
The White House says that Trump also had to force a discussion on the global economy and his desire for trade agreements that are more favorable to the U.S. after Macron deliberately disincluded a session on the dispute from the Biarritz agenda.
At Trump’s urging, the president’s advisers say Macron added a Saturday morning conversation to schedule that encompasses the president’s trade grievances.
‘Right now, outside the U.S. as you know, there’s very little economic growth: Europe is on the edge, Japan, China’s faltering. And we think it’s high time that we had a good group discussion of the allies regarding how to promote economic growth and prosperity and to lower trade barriers and to stabilize currency,’ National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday.
He concluded, ‘So that will formally be on the formal agenda. And that’s really all we care about.’
Macron will in turn try to move the needle on environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, according to a press packet.
Police officers on motorcycles patrol past a cafe ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz. The summit starts on Saturday
‘At the Biarritz Summit, France will build on its past and current efforts to support carbon neutrality by 2050 at the European level, by encouraging more countries to adopt this vital goal,’ an outline of of the G7 agenda says.
A conversation on Russia and it’s future participation is not on the agenda, however the White House said that Trump is likely to bring the issue up in closed-door talks.
He said this week that it would be ‘appropriate’ for G7 nations to allow Russia to rejoin the informal organization’s ranks.
Macron and Johnson have openly rebuffed him, and Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo annexation that Russia’s participation is out of the question, until it vacates Crimea.
‘I think all of us would be delighted to welcome a Russia which sought again to be a member in good standing of our like-minded group of countries, a group of countries committed to the rule of law, a group of countries committed to democracy,’ she said. ‘And the way for Russia to show that it wants to do that is to leave Crimea and to end the war in the Donbas. It’s very simple.’