Trump finally gets his state visit to Britain, where even he can look strong & stable
This is the kind of event that Trump really loves, a massive spectacle that money just can’t buy. The timing does have a feeling of now or never about it, because next year he’ll be busy electioneering, and the year after, well let’s just say ex-presidents don’t get 21 gun salutes.
2019 I’m sure looks far more appealing for a British mini-break. While Trump’s presidency is almost permanently mired in some kind of crisis, Britain has taken political dysfunction to a whole new level. The president has an even chance of looking statesman-like compared to his British counterparts, which tells you everything you need to know about Brexit. He’s a staunch Brexiteer no one will be surprised to hear.
Trump was promised the full pomp and circumstance, almost immediately after becoming president, by Theresa May back when she was a young prime minister full of hope, but it soon became clear that the welcome he could expect back then was not the one he’d been dreaming of.
The Queen would have been simply delightful, she’s entertained far worse than Trump over the years, but the crowds outside the palace were set to be of the jeering not cheering sort, and the US president is not known for his thick skin. This won’t actually be the first time he’s travelled to Britain since winning the White House, but last year he slipped in the metaphorical back door, avoiding central London altogether.
That meant he never got to see the famed giant inflatable that protesters had prepared for his visit which is not at all flattering, although the nappy was a nice fit.
The anti-Trump crowds will still be all present and correct when he arrives in June, that’s for sure, but angry hordes are a semi-permanent fixture of central London these days, whether it’s a protest about Brexit or the environment, their ability to shock has been diminished by familiarity. You can be sure the anti-Trump protesters that will come out in June will be the same crowd but with different placards.
For MPs it’s going to be much harder to take the high road, Trump proved an excellent virtue signalling tool for them last time. The speaker of the House effectively banned him from addressing parliament, and other MPs proudly expressed their refusal to meet him, not least opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. Well these days it’s hard to look morally superior as a member of Britain’s political class amid the Brexit debacle, no matter who comes to town, but don’t worry, they’ll still try.
There is a sense though that realpolitik will be at work because Britain has a lot resting on its ‘special relationship’ with the US, not least the carrot of a post-Brexit trade deal which could be a life-saver. Should we ever actually reach post-Brexit that is. There are already calls for speaker John Bercow to roll back his veto on Trump addressing parliament, because he might win a second term in the White House, and he’s not quick to forgive.
Whatever happens, there are plenty of variables to deal with between now and June. The Queen is going nowhere, but which prime minister will Trump be meeting? Theresa May will probably still be holding on to her job for dear life, but what if Prime Minister Boris Johnson was manning the red carpet instead? A sobering thought indeed for the teetering Anglosphere, and imagine those two heads of hair on Horse Guards Parade!
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.