5 PM British Summer Time / noon Eastern Daylight Time
Setting: A transatlantic telephone call between 10 Downing Street and the Oval Office. Let’s listen in …
Boris: Mr President, Donald, I am having a bit of a rough patch—this Brexit business—the crazies want my scalp. I need to ask a favour.
Trump: Boris, I want to help you. You are my friend. But I cannot do anything for you for friendship’s sake. That said—I am all for Brexit on October 31, 2019, if not before….
Boris: I know that Donald. You don’t have to explain.
Trump: Just a moment. I do have to explain. You have to expect that Clapper’s, Comey’s, and Brennan’s friends in the United States’ national security apparatus are recording everything you and I are saying. It will eventually come out—maybe tomorrow. So I might as well get my point of view across in the future record. We—the United States—pay for NATO. We subsidize the defense of every nation in NATO and in effect, every nation in the EU. Still, the EU raises tariff walls against our goods. This relationship is unfair to me, to my voters, and to the United States. In the past, we put up with it. We did so because Europe was getting on its feet after WWII, because Europe was under threat from domestic terrorism, and, above all, from Soviet communism—but those days are now long gone. The EU is just an anti-American cabal, and, for that reason and others, I want to facilitate the UK exiting. That’s why I am inclined to help you, and if our two countries’ interests are aligned, as I see our interests, I will help you. So tell me—what is it that you’d like me to do.
Boris: I am going to be forced by Parliament to ask the EU for an extension, and then to accept any extension that the EU might offer. But here a unanimity rule applies—every EU member state (other than the UK) must support giving the UK the extension. If one EU member holds out against granting an extension, then there is no properly authorized extension for the UK to accept. In those circumstances, I will be off the hook and free to negotiate a real deal with the EU, or, at least, free to exit the EU absent any deal.
For that reason, I would like the United States to explain to our NATO allies (e.g., Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania—who are also EU members) that if they vote in support of giving the UK any extension, then all U.S. troops will be pulled out of their countries. And in that situation, the U.S. will re-evaluate its continuing participation in Article V collective defense under NATO auspices.
If we go down this path, I do not think we should do it in secret. It will come out anyway.
Trump: That’s … That’s … Why the hell didn’t my advisors come up with that idea. What the hell do I pay those guys for anyway? Was this Dominic Cummings’ idea? I want that man in DC. Yuge!, Yuuge!, simply Yuuuge! Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia—I’m gonna make them an offer, they can’t refuse.
Seth Barrett Tillman, Prime Minister Johnson’s Last & Most Dangerous Ace, New Reform Club (Sept. 9, 2019, 9:19 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2019/09/prime-minister-johnsons-last-most.html>.
See also: Seth Barrett Tillman, The Prime Minister’s Next Ace, New Reform Club (Sept. 7, 2019, 5:12 PM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-prime-ministers-next-ace.html>.
See also: Seth Barrett Tillman, Boris Johnson Still Has An Ace Or Two To Play, New Reform Club (Sept. 4, 2019, 8:37 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2019/09/boris-johnson-still-has-ace-or-two-to.html>.