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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Britain and the US once ran the world. Now they’re all at sea

The parallels are striking. Both were global and political giants. Now both must adjust to their loss of influence

Events last Thursday on the two sides of the Atlantic were at once momentous and in some ways connected. In Washington the former FBI director James Comey used his open hearing before the Senate intelligence committee to call the president of the United States a liar – an astonishing act of lese-majesty. Meanwhile, at Westminster, Theresa May squandered her majority.

As a result, on both sides of the pond, there has been rejoicing on the left, and adjustments on the right. Donald Trump, who failed to win a majority of the popular vote in the presidential elections, now describes himself as a man under siege. As for May, she never possessed an electoral mandate for her initial climb to the top of the greasy pole. For all her hopes, she has not unambiguously secured one now. Both Republican power-brokers on the one hand and many of their Conservative counterparts on the other are busy investigating how and when they might drop these compromised leaders without also falling themselves.

 Comey's testimony shows: the impeachment machine is warming up
Richard Wolffe
Richard Wolffe  Read more
Yet current transatlantic political similarities go well beyond this. Some of the reasons for this are suggested by other recent events. Over the last couple of weeks, Kenya has inaugurated a new mega-railway, constructed and funded by the Chinese. During the same period, and despite Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, China reaffirmed its role as a leading supporter. It used to be imperial Britain that built and financed African railroads, while its successor empire, the United States, proclaimed itself the world’s indispensable nation. No longer.

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