The UK’s indecent haste in befriending toxic Trump will likely end badly suggests Steve Beauchampé.
One of the most troubling aspects of the sudden lurch to the right in British politics since the European Union referendum has been the alacrity with which the more fanatical Leave campaigners (including amongst ordinary voters) have aligned themselves with new United States President Donald Trump. For it is not only UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall queuing up to support Trump and defend or excuse his policies, but newspapers such as the Daily Mail and Daily Express, along with a coterie of journalists, political columnists and commentators. Some are already calling for Trump’s ultra-hardline policies on immigration and his slash and burn repealing of business regulations to be repeated here.
The British government also gives the impression of being a fully paid up supporter of Team Trump, so desperate are they to negotiate a free trade deal with the US to replace the extremely good existing one we are about to tear up by quitting the EU. In doing so they might have backed themselves into a corner by their unprecedented offer to Trump of a (no doubt lavish and costly) State visit, made less than a week after he took office (by comparison President Obama waited three years).
Trump’s enthusiastic support for Brexit and his wish to undermine the entire EU project has been hailed by some Conservatives who believe that backing from the world’s most powerful head of state is good news. But for those in the UK who have stood foursquare behind the Trump administration, admitting the enormity of their miscalculation as his barely-considered policies unravel and the toxicity of his presidency grows will be difficult.
Already we have witnessed Prime Minister Theresa May having to be metaphorically dragged kicking and screaming before publicly expressing any criticism of Trump’s ruthless clampdown on immigrants and refugees. His support for torture, protectionist economic stance and intense dislike of environmentalism are amongst a growing number of areas that must be causing the Prime Minister and her advisors almost daily anxiety.
Initial claims by Trump’s UK acolytes that his words should not be taken literally have proven hopelessly optimistic – it is clear that what he says and does are the same thing. There may be brief periods of relative calm during Trump’s tenure of office, but I wouldn’t be sure of it. For the most part his disruptive, combative and divisive style of presidency will continue, and anger and opposition to his administration, both in the USA and worldwide, will surely increase further.
In such a tempestuous environment, keeping a respectful distance whilst proffering a mixture of advice and considered alternatives, might perhaps be a more judicious course for a British government hoping to maintain at least a semblance of its claimed ‘special relationship’ with the United States.
Under Donald Trump, the USA is fast becoming a friendless loner, stomping around the globe belligerently picking fights with other countries, organisations and individuals. Being the bully’s biggest pal is not a good look and one that could well prove to be increasingly untenable.