How they see us: Britons applaud and insult Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump’s state visit to the U.K. was a combination of solemn pomp and campy protest, said Camilla Tominey in The Daily Telegraph. Queen Elizabeth II proved herself “the world’s most experienced and accomplished diplomat” as she smilingly welcomed the Trumps at Buckingham Palace and gave them a flattering reception, including a tour of Westminster Cathedral and a glittering state banquet. Trump looked “like a kid in a candy store” and tweeted that all the royals had been “fantastic.” Never mind that he’d described Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry who once called Trump “misogynistic,” as “nasty” just days earlier. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters marched through London’s streets, led by a giant statue of Trump tweeting from a golden toilet, complete with recorded sound bites saying, “I’m a very stable genius” and “No collusion”—interspersed with fart noises. A 20-foot blimp of Trump as a diapered, yelling baby floated nearby.
The protests were despicably ill-mannered, said Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, as were many of our politicians. Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn rudely boycotted the official state banquet, as did John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, and Vince Cable, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats. Given that this was a state visit, such petulance is a “calculated insult” not just to Trump “but to the American people as a whole.” And frankly, we could use some Trumpian bluntness in our own leadership. Had he been our prime minister and handled negotiations with Brussels, “Brexit would have been done by now.”
Perhaps if Prime Minister Theresa May had listened to Trump, said The Spectator in an editorial, her job would be safe. Instead—having repeatedly failed to get Britain out of the European Union and having lost the confidence of her Conservative Party—she is due to step down days after Trump’s visit concludes. The U.S. president is an ardent supporter of Brexit and “eager to offer Britain a free trade deal.” No one thinks the U.S. could immediately replace the EU as a trading partner. Still, a savvier leader could have used that promise as leverage to extract more concessions from the EU. But May, who seems to view Trump as a barbarian, never took his offer seriously.
Trump wants to make the U.K. a vassal of the U.S., said Zoe Williams in The Guardian. Brexit was all about self-governance, yet already this “orange blow-in is brashly telling us” how to run our affairs. First, he lauded buffoonish former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is running to replace May, as a “great guy.” Then he favored arch Euroskeptic Nigel Farage—whose new Brexit Party trounced the Conservatives and Labour in the recent European Parliament elections—with a meeting. Worse, Trump said that access for American megacorporations to our beloved National Health Service will be “on the table” during any future U.S.-U.K. trade deal talks. “Sovereignty and the self-respect that goes with it” was the last remaining benefit of Brexit. “Trump will trample all over it.” ■