Trump arrives in the UK wielding a Brexit dagger, 'a true friend stabs you in the front'

John Wight
John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.
Trump arrives in the UK wielding a Brexit dagger, 'a true friend stabs you in the front'
US President Donald Trump arrived in the UK on his official visit to the country and promptly wielded a Brexit dagger, stabbing Theresa May in the back.

In an explosive interview with Rupert Murdoch's Sun tabloid newspaper, the cash cow of the UK wing of Murdoch's vast media empire, the president accused Theresa May of ignoring his advice on Brexit and claimed that in opting for a 'soft Brexit' and continuing ties to the EU, she had killed any prospect of a bilateral trade deal between Britain and the US.

Even more explosive were Trump's warm words for Boris Johnson, talking him up as a prospective 'future' prime minister fresh from his controversial resignation as foreign secretary from May’s government.

It confirms that instead of a US president arriving in Britain to engage in the usual diplomatic niceties with his UK counterpart, Trump arrived on the scene like the boss of a New York crime family to pick his new underboss, opting for Boris Johnson over current incumbent Theresa May.

And 'they' (you know who I mean) have the temerity to accuse Russia of interfering in Britain's internal affairs over Brexit, citing as evidence a few tweets? Never mind a few tweets, Trump's astonishing intervention bears all the hallmarks of an attempted political coup d'état.

One thing is certain. If the drama which is playing out within the upper echelons of the British government and the country's political class continues in its current vein it will be hard for students of Shakespeare to make a case for continuing to take the works of the country's greatest-ever dramatist and playwright seriously. Why would they, when they find themselves living in a time when the real thing is far more compelling?

Enter stage right - one US President, flush from his appearance at a NATO Summit in Brussels at which he didn't just break a few cups and saucers but threw over the entire table, shattering decades of diplomatic happy talk and ironclad consensus when it comes to the status of the Western military alliance as a sacred cow, binding Washington to Europe in a marriage destined to last in perpetuity.

Well no longer. Now the divorce lawyers are circling as Trump made known his deep displeasure at what he believes is Europe's - and Germany's in particular - unfair treatment of the US when it comes to funding the alliance, leaving no doubt that - as far as he is concerned - US commitment to NATO can no longer be taken for granted.

This already-dramatic backdrop to the president's arrival in the UK was met from stage left by Theresa May's evermore hapless and failing attempts to foment a united government position over Brexit, culminating in a raft of ministerial resignations just days in advance - the most serious of which saw her lose her Brexit Secretary, David Davis, along with, as mentioned, Boris Johnson as her notorious foreign secretary.

Johnson, a man who has spent his entire public life doing his best to turn treachery from a vice into a virtue, is a figure straight out Shakespeare's Macbeth. His every smile is a dagger, his every gesture a bullet, as he calculates his next move on the chessboard of personal ambition, eyes fixed like laser beams on the prize of Number 10, convinced it is his destiny to save the country just as Churchill, his political hero and guide, saved it in 1940 when the barbarians were at the gates.

Boris Johnson, just to remind folks, is no Winston Churchill. In fact, in comparison to his political hero, he carries the political weight of a fly’s wing.

No matter, when it comes to Boris Johnson’s role in this sordid affair, one cannot help wondering if Trump's Brexit knifing of May's government, wielded via the pages of Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper, was pre-planned and calibrated in cooperation with the former foreign secretary and the right wing media mogul as part of a MacBethian plot.

Given Mr Murdoch's deserved, if malign, reputation as the kingmaker of British politics, who could possibly argue otherwise?

Even a blind man could see that Trump's arrival in the UK on an official visit could not have come at a worst time for Theresa May, what with her government being plunged into an ever-deepening and intensifying turmoil over Brexit. In fact it is plain that the only thing that has allowed her government to survive this long is the British political, business, and security establishment's fear of a Corbyn government in its place.

Worse for the prime minister is that Trump touched down in the UK flush with the confidence of a president who had, as said, just read NATO the riot act over the huge imbalance in financial and military commitment to the Cold War military alliance that exists between Washington and Europe.

Thus, with the axiom 'only the strong can compromise and only equals can reach agreement' in mind, Theresa May was already set for an uncomfortable few days in Donald Trump's formidable shadow, whose itinerary during his official visit also includes a meeting with the Queen.

Yet nobody, least of all Theresa May, could possibly have expected this.

However, having said that, Trump's demarche - the crudity and brazen arrogance of it - may well turn out to have the opposite effect to the one intended. Indeed he may well have overreached, especially in a country, Britain, where a cultural disdain for the bully and the braggart has long held sway.

It is why the Stop Trump movement, established to meet the president with mass protests in London and elsewhere across the country, has now just been guaranteed double the already tens of thousands who will take to the streets under its banner.

As for Theresa May, Trump may well have just provided her with that elusive ingredient which every leader, no matter who, yearns for more than any other: public sympathy and, with it, support.

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