The pond may be starting to feel wider.
While young Britons are mixed on how far to go in rebuking America’s foreign policy as well as the relevance or need for a “special relationship” between the United States and United Kingdom — a term coined by Winston Churchill in the 1940s — they seem to agree on one thing: Politics are just too uncertain right now to predict the future.
Between the Brexit vote and the U.S. election of President Donald Trump, several millennials in London interviewed earlier this month hemmed and hawed on what the next few years would hold for the relationship between the long-standing allies.
“It’s very hit and miss, really,” said Emily Rankin, an 18-year-old student from Wimbledon. “I have no clue when it’s going to, and where it’s going to, head.”
Rankin, who signed an online petition to ban Trump from making a state visit to the United Kingdom (which has since gained more than 1.8 million signatures), said it’s a matter of “sit back and wait and see” what the relationship will look like.
While visiting the White House last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump for a state visit to take place in June, according to published reports.
The petition against the visit quickly surpassed the 100,000 signatures needed to be debated in parliament and will be discussed on Feb. 20. A second petition arguing that Trump should be welcomed for a state visit will also be debated the same day after generating more than 300,000 signatures.
Earlier this month, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said Trump would not be welcome to address Parliament on his state visit, according to reports.
“I think [Trump’s] unpredictability is worrying,” said Maisie Lee, 33, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, and is from Sussex, England. “We should wait and see what’s going to happen in the States, just to see how far down that road he’s going to go. [May] went too soon, she made the invitation too soon.”
But despite Trump’s controversial policies, several young Britons said the “special relationship” should be salvaged. Stephanie Hollingsworth, 23, said Trump should be welcome in the United Kingdom.
“It’s good to have a bond,” said Hollingsworth, an administrator from London. “We will benefit by communicating with him, but I understand why they wouldn’t want to.”
For Phil Kay, however, the “special relationship” hasn’t been so special for a long time.
“It’s a smoke screen,” said Kay, 29, from London, who owns property development and security businesses. “It’s nonexistent until there’s a reason to go into war.”
Sophie Fuller, on the other hand, a student from the London suburb of Bromley, said there may be hope yet for that “special relationship.”
“In the short term it will affect us, but it depends on how far he takes his policies, if he calms down,” said Fuller, 22. “He’s being quite radical with what he’s doing at the moment.”