United Kingdom: Shocked by Trump’s break with decorum
Britain is still reeling from a “wrecking visit by the ally from hell,” said The Guardian in an editorial. Prime Minister Theresa May piled on the pomp for U.S. President Donald Trump last week, hosting him at Blenheim Palace and the Chequers country estate, and arranging tea at Windsor Castle with the queen—all far away from the 250,000 protesters marching against him in London. Trump repaid this generosity by giving an explosive interview to the Rupert Murdoch–owned Sun tabloid, in which he ranted about how immigration was ruining the country and praised May’s political rival Boris Johnson, who had quit as her foreign minister just days earlier, as “a very talented guy” who would “make a great prime minister.” Worst of all, he declared that May’s plan for a soft Brexit—in which Britain would stay close to the European Union after leaving the bloc by still following many of its regulations and customs rules—would “kill” any future U.K.-U.S. trade deal. It was a “stab in the back,” and yet May brought it on herself by inviting Trump in the first place. This is a man “hostile to our interests and values,” who wants to break up international institutions like NATO and the EU.
Trump later pretended to walk back his criticism in a joint press conference with May, by inanely declaring that the U.K.-U.S. relationship was “the highest level of special,” said the Daily Mirror. In fact, Trump only sees Britain “with the voracious eyes of an asset stripper—as a country ripe for exploitation once we have left the EU.” Let’s be clear about why Trump wants the U.K. to sever all ties with our European partners, said Kevin Maguire, also in the Daily Mirror. He knows that the mighty U.S. can bully an isolated, post-Brexit Britain into accepting a one-sided trade deal that will slash our regulatory standards to American levels. Then, U.S. exporters will be free to send us their “chlorinated chicken” and gas-guzzling, gargantuan SUVs, and American companies will help privatize our beloved National Health Service. But if we remain aligned with the EU after Brexit, we can negotiate a wider Europe-U.S. trade agreement from a position of strength, and this “rogue president” won’t be able to push us around.
We can all agree that Trump “displays appallingly bad manners,” said Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph. But good manners “can be a way to conceal truth.” And the simple truth is that May’s Brexit plan would betray everything the British people voted for in the 2016 referendum. A clear majority voted to break free from the rule-bound EU and embrace a future in which the U.K. can strike deals with the U.S. and other great trading nations. May might feel offended by Trump’s undiplomatic criticism, but he’s right when he says that her Brexit plan is “not the deal that was in the referendum.” Trump believes “there is nothing wrong with a democratic country that wants to rule itself and put its own interests first.” Does May? ■