Balance of Power: Bombardier Saga Spells Trouble for May

U.S. President Donald Trump promised the British prime minister a “big and exciting” trade deal once the U.K. leaves the European Union.

The headline in today’s Telegraph told a different story: “Theresa May threatens U.S. with trade war over Bombardier row.”

The dispute over punitive U.S. tariffs imposed on the Canadian aircraft manufacturer is a double blow for May: it threatens jobs at a Bombardier plant in Northern Ireland, and points to failed efforts to lobby the U.S. president to protect British interests.

Above all, it demonstrates how post-Brexit Britain will be on its own. As the Bombardier spat unfolded, a look across the Channel offered a contrasting picture. President Emmanuel Macron gave his blessing to a merger of the rail businesses of France’s Alstom and Siemens of Germany. The European giant fits his vision of a united EU able to go toe-to-toe with the U.S. and China.

The lesson, according to Guntram Wolff of the Bruegel think tank, should not be lost on May: “Small countries can get more easily bullied than large unions,” he says. 

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

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Photographer: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images North America

— With assistance by Karl Maier

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