United Kingdom: Trump strains the Special Relationship
Well, this is rather awkward, said Nicholas Cecil in the London Evening Standard. Prime Minister Theresa May is facing calls to block Donald Trump from visiting the U.K. this February, after the U.S. president tweeted a string of anti- Muslim videos promoted by the fringe hate group Britain First. One video purported to show a “Muslim migrant” attacking a Dutch boy on crutches, but the attacker was neither a Muslim nor a migrant. May said Trump was “wrong” to share material from a “hateful” group, prompting the U.S. president to tweet, “Theresa, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.” That in turn triggered an outpouring of condemnation from politicians. Opposition Labor lawmaker Chris Bryant demanded that Trump be arrested for inciting religious hate if he visited the U.K. Tim Loughton, a lawmaker with the ruling Conservative Party, urged Twitter to delete Trump’s account, as it would with “any other citizen of the world who peddles such hate crime.”
Of course the state visit must be canceled, said The Guardian in an editorial. Trump not only pandered to bigots, but also sniped at the prime minister for reproaching him. We have come to expect such loathsome behavior from this “thuggish narcissist.” After a terrorist killed eight people in London this summer, Trump went after Mayor Sadiq Khan for asking Londoners to remain calm. Then in September, after a terrorist bomb failed to go off in the capital, he slammed Scotland Yard for not being “proactive” enough. “Bullies never respect sycophants,” and Britain should not allow Trump’s “racism to be dressed up in pageantry.”
Save us the “virtue signalling and faux self-righteousness,” said the Daily Mail. Yes, Trump’s retweet of a loathsome hate group was profoundly irresponsible. But so is this “storm of sanctimonious protest.” Trump may be a “narcissistic, absurd figure,” but he is also the elected leader of a nation whose countrymen fought and died beside ours in two world wars. An invitation to him is not an endorsement of his actions, it is “about honoring the hugely important ally he represents”— one we will need more than ever after Brexit.
That’s why Trump “cannot be kept away forever, dreadful as he is,” said Independent.co.uk. The U.K. and U.S. simply have too much official business to discuss. It’s not as if he will be the worst person the queen has ever dined with: Think of all the “despots and dictators” she’s hosted over the decades. Tell that to the protesters, said Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, also in Independent.co.uk. The Stop Trump group says it is planning a mass demonstration at the U.S. Embassy if Trump visits. “He will be met by a million of us attempting a citizen’s arrest of him for incitement of racial hatred,” the group said. If he can’t be guaranteed cheering crowds, perhaps Trump won’t want to come at all. ■