Palin’s futile foreign policy stunt

A recent poll shows that Sarah Palin is fighting a losing battle to win the presidency in 2012.

More bad news for Sarah Palin: only 23 per cent of the American public think she is qualified to be president of the United States, and 64 per cent say she is not. One possible reason for the results of this poll could be her lack of experience. She did, after all, serve only half of her gubernatorial term in Alaska. Arguably, one of the areas in which she is weakest is in the sphere of foreign policy.

This could explain her recent trip to Haiti. This was an apparent bid to bolster her foreign policy credentials ahead of an expected presidential campaign in 2012. She is also reportedly considering trips to Britain and Israel in 2011 to the same end.

It is very difficult to take news of this trip seriously. While she may be making these appearances to project a more credible stance on foreign policy, it really should not have that effect. Tightly scheduled and regulated media appearances are not enough to claim foreign policy experience. This seems like a repeat of her visit to the UN in the lead-up to the 2008 election.

Nobody outside of her already diehard supporters is going to be convinced that sporadic appearances in other countries are enough to qualify her for America's highest office. If she does end up running for the presidency in 2012, does she really expect to use these visits to show how serious she is about foreign policy? There is a reason that Tina Fey's hilarious impression of Palin ("I can see Russia from my house!") stuck in the public consciousness: it was perilously close to the truth.

Granted, Candidate Obama had little by way of foreign policy experience. This was compensated for with a huge depth of knowledge regarding US law and the constitution. Does Palin have that? Well, considering that she did not know what the vice-president's role was while running for that very office, or that she believes the US to be founded on Christianity, the answer appears to be no.

The line of separation between church and state would be severely blurred under Palin, should she get her way. This recent trip to Haiti is another example of her wilful ignorance of that separation. She went at the invitation of Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse organisation, which has been criticised for appearing to put a greater emphasis on proselytising than on helping people during humanitarian missions.

The Haiti trip does not give Palin any real foreign policy gravitas. In fact, it merely highlights the extent to which she is not a serious person. The very idea that such a stunt would make her more electable becomes even more laughable in the face of the latest Politico poll. Does anyone really expect such token appearances will persuade the 64 per cent that she is qualified? The current polling is clear: Sarah Palin will not be elected president in 2012.

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Theresa May confirms Brexit Britain out of the single market – 8 other things we learnt

The Prime Minister dropped the Brexit bombshell that we're out of the single market, and more. 

Theresa May confirmed suspicions that the UK will leave the single market after Brexit in a major speech on her objectives.

The Prime Minister said the Brexit vote was a clear message about controlling immigration, and “that is what we will deliver” – but this meant the UK could not continue following the rules of the single market

She said: I want to be clear. What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the  single market. European leaders have said many times that membership means accepting the “four freedoms” of goods, capital, services and people.

"And being out of the EU but a member of the single market would mean complying with the EU’s rules and regulations that implement those freedoms, without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are."

May also repeated that maintaining the open land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be a priority, and that she wanted trade deals with the rest of the world.

But leaving the single market wasn’t the only Brexit bombshell May dropped. Here is what we learnt:

1. The single market may be replaced by a European free trade deal

The Prime Minister has ruled out a single market, but is hoping for a deal to replace it. She said: “As a priority we will pursue a bold and ambitious free trade agreement with our neighbours in Europe."

2. No more European Court of Justice

May said Brexit will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain, and that “laws will be interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg but in courts across this country”.

3. Parliament will get a vote on the Brexit deal

Most MPs already expected to get a vote – as their peers in the European Parliament would get one. May confirmed this, saying: "I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament, before it comes into force.."

4. EU citizens still face uncertainty

May has always been clear she wants to confirm EU citizens’ right to remain in the UK, but only if British citizens receive the same guarantee in other EU countries.

She made no further guarantees, saying: "I have told other EU leaders that we could give people the certainty they want straight away, and reach such a deal now. Many of them favour such an agreement - one or two others do not"

5. She will try to stay in the customs union

May explicitly said the UK will have to leave the EU single market, but she was far more nuanced on the customs union, which negotiates trade deals on behalf of the EU member states.

She does not want Britain to share the EU’s common commercial policy, or be bound by common external tariffs, but does want to “have a customs agreement with the EU”. This could mean the UK becoming “an associate member of the customs union”. 

6. Some payments may continue

May said that Britain voted to stop large contributions to the EU, but she stopped short of ruling them out altogether. There may be payments that are “appropriate”, she said, if there are programmes the UK wants to be part of.  

7. Brexit could be in phases

The PM said several times she wanted to reassure businesses – who are increasingly unhappy about the uncertainty ahead. She wants the negotiators avoid a “cliff edge”, but also avoid “permanent political purgatory” (something Brexiteers fear). 

May suggested a deal could be done by the time the two-year process of Article 50 ends, and this could be followed by a “phased process of implementation”.

It’s worth bearing in mind at this point that two years in EU deal-making time is extremely speedy.

8. The UK’s nuclear option: Corporate tax haven

The Chancellor Philip Hammond has already floated the idea that a disgruntled Britain could slash corporate tax in order to attract unscrupulous multinationals to its shores.

May said that the UK would be prepared to crash out without an agreement, saying “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”. 

In such a situation, Britain "would have the freedom to set the competitive tax rates and embrace the policies that would attract the world’s best companies and biggest investors to Britain". In other words, become an offshore tax haven. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.