Special Relationship
July 9, 2019

Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May backed Britain's ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, on Tuesday, after President Trump tweeted Monday that Darroch "is not liked" in the U.S. and "we will no longer deal with him." Darroch, who actually appears quite popular in Washington, was disinvited from a White House dinner Monday to honor the emir of Qatar. Trump also insulted May, saying she made a "mess" of Brexit and Britain was lucky she's on her way out.

May's spokesman said Britain's government did not agree with Darroch's leaked candid assessments of Trump's administration — which include adjectives like "dysfunctional" and "clumsy and inept" — but said Darroch was right to pass on his frank assessment. "You can't change an ambassador at the demand of a host country," former Foreign Secretary William Hague agreed on BBC Radio. "It is their job to give an honest assessment of what is happening in that country."

Meanwhile, Britain is hunting for the leaker who passed the confidential cables to journalist Isabel Oakeshott, a strong supporter of Brexit and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage. Farage is friendly with Trump and has said people like Darroch would "not be around" if Boris Johnson replaces May. Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to Washington, told BBC Radio there's a "possible range of villains," but "it was clearly somebody who set out deliberately to sabotage Sir Kim's ambassadorship, to make his position untenable, and to have him replaced by somebody more congenial to the leaker." Trump has suggested Farage would "do a great job" as ambassador to Washington, but Farage downplayed the idea Monday, saying he's "not a diplomat."

Britain is trying to negotiate a major trade deal with the U.S. after it leaves the European Union. Trade Secretary Liam Fox, in Washington this week, said he will apologize to Ivanka Trump for the leaked cables during their scheduled meeting, to which Darroch is apparenly no longer invited. Peter Weber

June 4, 2019

After a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace on Monday night, President Trump met with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday morning to discuss policy. At a business roundtable, Trump urged May to "stick around" to complete a bilateral U.S.-Britain trade deal, assuming Britain exits the European Union. Trump is undiplomatically pro-Brexit and supportive of May's pro-Brexit-er rivals, and May is resigning because Parliament rejected her Brexit plan multiple times. Protesters have launched the baby Trump balloon outside Parliament.

May, like Queen Elizabeth II, had a special gift for Trump. "Trump can do insults, but he could learn a thing or two from Theresa May about British passive aggression," Politico's Charlie Cooper writes. Her gift, a copy of Winston Churchill's draft of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, "is laden with symbolism — and just a little snark." The charter, negotiated with Franklin D. Roosevelt, sets out "common goals for the world, including freer trade, disarmament, and the right to self-determination of all people," The Associated Press explains. "The declaration helped lay the groundwork for the United Nations and the World Trade Organization."

"Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the U.N.," Cooper says, "and the gift will inevitably be read as a parting shot from the prime minister about the importance of multilateralism and the rules-based global order." The queen also touched on those themes in her Monday night toast to Trump, lauding the post-World War II work the U.S. and Britain did "with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions" that still work "together to safeguard a hard-won peace."

Trump will take part in ceremonies in Britain and France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to deliver a similar pro-multilateral message. In London, May gifted first lady Melania Trump "a bespoke teapot," Britain's Metro reports. For more British passive aggression, read some reactions to that gift. Peter Weber

June 3, 2019

Britain's outgoing prime minister and royal family are rolling out the red carpet for President Trump, who arrives in London on Monday for his first state visit to Britain. The rest of Britain? Well, this is how Sky News is teasing his visit:

Trump has already caused a row in Britain. He essentially endorsed former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for prime minister, called Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, "nasty" — he tweeted an unequivocal denial, but The Sun has it on tape — and has "already humiliated outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit and challenged her to be tougher in dealing with China's Huawei," Reuters says. Trump said he might meet with Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage — either meeting "would be seen as a snub for May" — and he suggested Britain "walk away" from the European Union, a nod toward an economically calamitous no-deal Brexit.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in an op-ed Sunday that Trump is "one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat" from politicians using "the same divisive tropes of the fascists of the 20th century to garner support." Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who declined an invitation to Trump's lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace, said "Trump's attempt to decide who will be Britain's next prime minister is an entirely unacceptable interference in our country's democracy."

And yes, the "Baby Trump" blimp featured in the Sky News preview will be out, flying in front of Britain's Parliament amid what protesters are calling a "carnival of resistance." Incidentally, Comcast bought Sky last year, beating Rupert Murdoch, who'd been trying to purchase a controlling stake for years. We'll never know how a Murdoch-owned Sky News would have welcomed Trump. Peter Weber

January 26, 2017

On Thursday, President Trump will speak to House and Senate Republicans at the GOP's annual policy retreat, the first retreat in a decade where the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House. Vice President Mike Pence will also address the congressional Republicans, as will British Prime Minister Theresa May, marking the first time a foreign head of government appears at a GOP retreat. House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out an ambitious list of policies for Trump's first 200 days, including a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act by March and a total overhaul of the U.S. tax code by midsummer, plus special funding for Trump's $14 billion Mexico border wall and an infrastructure bill.

Some Republicans, however, expressed concerns about Trump being able to stay focused on their shared agenda. "I'd rather not be revisiting and rehashing the election — it's over," said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.). "We have to get onto the serious issue of governing. These other issues are distractions." At the same time, he added, "I don't control the Twitter feed." Peter Weber

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