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Saturday, 24 August 2019

Greenland is not for sale, but the UK might be (Reuters)

Reuters BreakingViews title: Air Force/Airstrip One

Reuters BreakingViews email title: Greenland is not for sale, but the UK might be

Date of publication: 21 August 2019

"Denmark has refused to sate Donald Trump’s thirst for geo-M&A. The U.S. president on Tuesday called off a visit to the European state after its prime minister rebuffed his idea of buying Greenland, an autonomous dependent territory of the kingdom. If he’s looking around for an alternative target, he could do worse than a lob in a bid for the United Kingdom.

It would be expensive. Greenland’s market value, according to a jokey valuation cooked up by FT Alphaville, is $1.1 trillion. A proxy for the UK’s book value – the Office for National Statistics’ most recent net worth figure, is $12.4 trillion, enough for a simple cash offer to push up U.S. government debt from around 80% to nearly 150% of GDP.

Still, Trump could beat that price down, citing ongoing epic mismanagement. And net worth is set to plummet after the UK government’s planned hard Brexit in October. Another idea: instead of cash he could pay in the equivalent of shares – giving Britain a stake in the wider United States by becoming its 51st state. London is 1,000 miles closer to Washington, D.C., than Hawaii.

There are upsides for the United States, starting with the realisation of the vision of the UK as “Airstrip One” in George Orwell’s “1984”. Also, turning the UK into the Brexiters’ nirvana of a hyper low-tax haven – a sort of East Delaware – would give Trump added muscle in negotiating with the European Union.

Clearly, there would be nay-sayers, both among the Brexiters who value sovereignty, and the Remainers who dislike Trump. But the former group would escape what they see as the dead hand of the EU, and appear keen fans of a punitive U.S. trade deal anyway. The latter might be bought off with a “Freedom Dividend” of 590 pounds per person, or the 39 billion pounds currently due to be paid to the EU as an exit fee.

Trump may still feel this is too much bother. If so, he could restrict his sights to Scotland, which doesn’t want to stay part of a post-hard Brexit UK anyway."

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Context News
"U.S. President Donald Trump on Aug. 21 called off a visit to Denmark scheduled for early September after the country’s prime minister rebuffed his idea of purchasing Greenland.

“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”

A White House official said Trump had dropped the Sept. 2-3 stop in Denmark, a NATO ally. Trump had been due to discuss the Arctic in meetings in Copenhagen with Frederiksen, who took office in June, and Kim Kielsen, prime minister of Greenland.

Trump is due to visit Poland on Aug. 31.

Frederiksen said on Aug. 18 the idea of selling Greenland to the United States was absurd after an economic adviser to Trump confirmed U.S. interest in buying the world’s largest island."

Source: https://www.breakingviews.com/considered-view/greenland-is-not-for-sale-but-the-uk-might-be/

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