Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UK says Britain needs to ‘hold its nerve’ to make the most of Brexit
- Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson has urged the UK to stay the course on Brexit
- ‘It isn’t a time to fall into defeatism or to talk yourselves down,’ he said
- He stresses he takes no side in the war over future arrangements with the EU
- His intervention comes a week before Mr Trump is due to arrive in the UK
Britain needs to ‘hold its nerve’ to make the most of Brexit, Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UK says today.
In a rallying call, Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson insists Brexit will be a success provided politicians are not allowed to ‘talk yourselves down’.
Writing in the Daily Mail, the billionaire businessman urges the UK to stay the course on Brexit despite the difficulties thrown up by negotiations with Brussels. ‘This isn’t a time to panic,’ he says. ‘It isn’t a time to fall into defeatism or to talk yourselves down.
‘Take a leaf out of the book of America’s revolutionary heroes. Hang together. This is a big moment in British history.
‘You have a once in a lifetime opportunity to go in a different direction and define who you want to be and what you want to accomplish.
Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson (pictured with Liz Hurley last year) said Britain needs to ‘hold its nerve’ to make the most of Brexit
‘That is an exciting opportunity. So hold your nerve Britain. This could be the start of something great.’
He stresses that he takes no side in the Cabinet war over future arrangements with the EU. But his call to stay true to the referendum result will be seen as seen as offering support to Cabinet Brexiteers pushing for the UK to make a clean break with the EU.
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His intervention comes just a week before Mr Trump is due to arrive in the UK for his first visit as President.
Mr Johnson urges Britain to summon up the spirit of the American pioneers who toppled their British rulers in the Revolutionary War.
He cites the Declaration of Independence, which is celebrated today – July 4 – saying in the course of human events it can become ‘necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another’.
He adds: ‘That is the attitude Britain needs now. Brexit is no Revolutionary War but it’s no picnic either. Breaking up is hard to do and make no mistake – this is as complicated as any negotiation gets. It’s going to be a long journey to agree on the way forward.’
His intervention comes just a week before Donald Trump is due to arrive in the UK for his first visit as President
And he says that, like America’s break with Britain in the 18th century, Brexit could eventually prove to be ‘the foundation for a much stronger and more enduring friendship long-term’ between the UK and Europe.
Mr Johnson acknowledges the UK could face ‘a difficult few years’, but says this is no reason to abandon the change voted for in the 2016 referendum.
‘I do support the British people and the decision you have taken,’ he says. ‘And I have never doubted for a moment that you are going to make it a success.’
Mr Johnson’s comments indicate growing concern in Washington about the fractious nature of the Cabinet debate over Brexit.
Last month he said he had been ‘startled’ by the ‘defeatist attitude’ he had encountered since arriving in London last summer.
President Trump backed Brexit during the referendum campaign and has continued to support it since his election.
He has pledged to fast-track a free trade deal with the UK once we leave the EU.
But there is concern in Washington that the UK could remain tied to the EU so comprehensively that free trade deals become all but impossible.
Last month, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested Mr Trump would have made a better job of leading the Brexit negotiations.
In leaked remarks to a private dinner, he said: ‘Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos.
‘Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere.’
Hold your nerve, Britain! On Independence Day America’s ambassador to the UK believes Brexit WILL be a success
By Robert Wood Johnson, America’s Ambassador to Britain
The path of least resistance is always the same: do nothing. It is easy to maintain the status quo. Choosing a new direction is much more difficult. It takes nerve. Change calls for courage, conviction and confidence.
Fortunately those qualities weren’t lacking in the people who came to settle America.
They weren’t afraid to take a risk. They sailed the high seas. They ventured out with their wagons across a vast and unknown continent.
Their can-do spirit built our country and made us who we are today. And there is no finer example of that spirit in action than the Declaration of Independence which we celebrate today. It was the boldest and bravest moment in the whole of American history.
Don’t forget it wasn’t an easy decision at the time.
Despite what the Declaration described as the ‘long train of abuses and usurpations’ they had been subjected to under the British, thousands and thousands of colonists wanted to remain.
They strongly opposed breaking the union — not only did they feel British, even more importantly, it was Britain who bought their goods.
And even those in favour of revolution were anxious about the risks involved.
Mr Johnson cited the Declaration of Independence, which is celebrated today – July 4
It is said that after signing the Declaration of Independence, the president of Congress, John Hancock, urged Congress to hang together.
Fellow signatory Benjamin Franklin responded with gallows humour: ‘We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.’
The colonists’ decision could have ended in disaster. But they had a unity of purpose and a clarity of vision that drove them forward.
The Declaration itself was a masterpiece. With its self-evident truth that all men are created equal, and its unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they came up with the most ambitious and inspiring statement of political intent ever written.
They gave birth to a free nation that would become an industrial powerhouse, a military superpower and an intellectual and cultural giant.
The Revolutionary War was also the best thing that could have happened for the relationship between America and Britain.
Ultimately it paved the way for our great alliance as independent nations. An alliance which, as Margaret Thatcher said, has done more for the defence and future of freedom than any other alliance in the world.
None of that would have happened if those men and women hadn’t dared to take a risk. If they hadn’t looked beyond the difficulties and dangers and uncertainties ahead.
That is exactly the attitude needed when, as stated in another section of the Declaration of Independence, ‘in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another’.
And that is the attitude Britain needs now.
Brexit is no Revolutionary War, but it’s no picnic either.
Breaking up is hard to do and make no mistake, this is as complicated as any negotiation gets. It’s going to be a long journey to agree on the way forward. And, yes, it could be a difficult few years for Britain.
I’m not going to underestimate the challenges involved, especially in the short-term. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I was never a Brexiteer or a Remainer. It wasn’t for me to say. I don’t support a hard Brexit and I don’t support a soft one. That’s not my call.
President Trump understands Britain’s potential better than anybody, Mr Johnson says
But I do support the British people and the decision you have taken. And I have never doubted for a moment that you are going to make it a success. The better I get to know this country, the more confident I’ve become.
I’ve travelled around the UK — from Belfast to Birmingham and Newport to Newcastle. I’ve spoken to some of the best scientists in the world, the most skilled and dedicated factory workers, the most exciting entrepreneurs. I’ve seen what this country can do and I’ve seen what this country can offer the world.
President Trump understands Britain’s potential better than anybody. He has a deep, personal respect for this country and its history. He is proud of all the incredible things America and Britain have achieved together — not least to rally the West and save Europe from oppression in two World Wars and one Cold War.
But the President knows that the work of our Special Relationship is not done. There are still serious global threats which we cannot afford to underestimate — whether from China or Russia, Iran or North Korea. Our security, and the security of others, still depends upon our two nations standing together.
When President Trump visits the UK in just over a week, he will be visiting a country which is as important to America’s future as it was to our past. Our prosperity and security are intertwined with yours.
You pay your way and shoulder your commitments to Europe’s defence. Your soldiers are there side-by-side with ours in the fight against terrorism. Your businesses invest billions in America, and hire over a million American workers. And in almost every field of science and research, you’ll find a Brit and American working in the laboratory together.
So the President will be coming here determined to work with the Prime Minister to make this crucial relationship even stronger.
Britain is quite simply an indispensable ally for the United States — as it is for many other countries, including, of course, the member states of the European Union.
Even after Brexit, Britain will remain at the heart of the West — bound to the EU not by institution but the shared values of democracy and freedom.
And just as we saw with America and Britain, Brexit may appear to be a split at first, but it could be the foundation for a much stronger and more enduring friendship long-term.
What is clear is that Britain has a bright future ahead and a crucial role to play in the world. This isn’t a time for the UK to panic. It isn’t a time to fall into defeatism or to talk yourselves down. Take a leaf out of the book of America’s revolutionary heroes. Hang together. This is a big moment in British history.
You have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go in a different direction and define who you want to be and what you want to accomplish. That is an exciting opportunity. So hold your nerve Britain. This could be the start of something great.
I wish you all a happy Independence Day.
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