Sir Nigel Sheinwald on the UK/US Relationship

President Trump begins his state visit to the UK today and has wasted no time in ruffling feathers: he tweeted criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan; referred to Meghan Markle as “nasty;” and expressed his support for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. Nigel Sheinwald was the UK’s Ambassador to the US until 2012 and joins the program to assess the state of the relationship between the two countries.

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NIGEL SHEINWALD, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, any visit, any state visit by the president of the United States is important. U.S. remains the U.K.’s most important ally, most significant ally by quite a long way. But I think it’s important, partly because in the U.K., this is a very vulnerable and significant moment. We’re having to deal with a new type of American president. Someone who doesn’t value alliances in the way that his predecessors did, who likes the history and who clearly likes the pageantry, and that’s a good thing. But it isn’t enough because I think alliances without values, alliances without a shared agenda are weak alliances. And that’s what this visit may expose or it may prove to be wrong, if there seem to be more substance behind the smiles and behind the ceremony.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, given that you were a U.K. ambassador to the United States and also to the European Union, two, obviously, big issues for Britain right now, given that you’re also steeped in foreign policy and security policy and intelligence policy, what do you see as the big issue beyond today’s royal day when it comes to politics. Are there any, as far as we know, I mean, major bilaterals that have to be talked about, trashed out, signed? What’s on the table?

SHEINWALD: I’m not sure there’s going to be a huge amount that’s going to get agreed then and there. Because I think this program is deliberately light on substance. And that’s for two reasons. A, I think it’s because the president did not want a heavy program. But I also think it’s because at this moment that our prime minister about to change with all the uncertainty over Brexit, it doesn’t feel like the right moment for the U.K. to be launching major new initiatives in any event. But I think there are some things clearly on the agenda. The test will be whether you get the sense two of nations working with some sense of shared purpose and a shared agenda before beyond the generality of this historic alliance. So, I would say the test tomorrow will be what is said on Iran, what is said on the Yemen and whether it’s possible for the U.K. and U.S. really to push forward the possibility of a peace agreement in relation to Yemen. What’s said on China and the perceived threat from China and what’s going to happen over the treatment of Huawei here in the U.K. which is clearly an issue very much on the president’s mind and the mind of his advisers.

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Christiane Amanpour speaks with Nigel Sheinwald about President Trump’s visit to the UK; and Ava DuVernay about her new Netflix series “When They See Us” about the Central Park Five. Walter Isaacson speaks with magician David Kwong about his show “The Enigmatist.”