At long last, the circus has finally left town. Theresa May’s premiership is effectively dead, and the state visit of Donald Trump from the United States has thankfully passed us by. You can relax now, a comical chapter in Anglo-American relations has finally reached its conclusion. But, try not to sit too comfortably, for I suspect that the next pantomime lurks just around the corner.
The week began comically. Trump, yet to even touchdown at Stanstead Airport, sent Twitter into a tailspin early on Monday morning, branding Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, “a stone-cold loser”. Of course, the current occupant of the Oval Office is well-versed in the language of respect and decorum.
The president’s inane ramblings helped to set the tone for much of his visit to London. Unlike during the state visit of Barack Obama, the president was forced to descend the stairs of Air Force One without a shred of red carpet in sight. The most quintessentially British slight of all time, or simply the mark of austerity? I’ll let you decide.
Instead, it highlighted the troubling cracks in the democracies on both sides of the Atlantic
A stunning sense of awkwardness seemed to descend across the capital as Trump’s whistle-stop tour of London ticked on. On Monday, the president’s encounter with the Royal Family encapsulated that regal gawkiness perfectly. Trump, dressed in formal dinnerware, posed for the press sternly as he stood beside the Queen. Perhaps the president hoped to capture the majesty of Buckingham Palace? Instead, the POTUS and HRH combined to create the most joyless photo of all time.
And I must say, Trump’s dinner jacket was not the only thing “off” about the whole affair. The president’s state visit offered not a shred of hope for the future of the “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States. Instead, it highlighted the troubling cracks in the democracies on both sides of the Atlantic.
On Tuesday, with the now infamous Trump blimp flying proudly over central London, the circus rolled on through the capital. Usually, every man and his dog would be queuing up along The Mall to catch a glimpse of the visiting leader of the free world; not this time. Sir Vince Cable, off the back of a string of impressive election nights for the Liberal Democrats, led the way in what soon became the parliamentary equivalent of hide and seek. Far from seeing the visit of our closest ally as the perfect photo-op, our politicians worked to avoid the president as though he was carrying the bubonic plague.
Reflecting upon the “extraordinary alliance” between the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump’s attention was quickly diverted to doing what he does best: sprouting tidal waves of absolute lies and nonsense
Jeremy Corbyn, despite speaking at a rally against the president’s visit, did extend a reluctant arm of friendship, inviting Trump to a meeting about climate change – and other such Chinese hoaxes. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s retort was blunt: the president “told him no.”
So, Trump’s visit rumbled and tumbled and grumbled on. If we were playing soundbite bingo, you would’ve won a string of bonus points during Tuesday’s joint press conference between the PM and the POTUS. Reflecting upon the “extraordinary alliance” between the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump’s attention was quickly diverted to doing what he does best: sprouting tidal waves of absolute lies and nonsense.
A democracy is very, very sick, indeed, when an American president is able to stand next to a British prime minister and lie (or should I say offer alternative facts) to the public at large. When asked about the widespread protests that took a hold of the country throughout his visit, Trump’s response came directly from the Bannon playbook: ‘I didn’t see the protesters until a little while ago,” the president claimed, “it was a very small group of people, put in for political reasons. So, it was fake news.”
American pharmaceutical companies are licking their lips at the prospect of getting their hands on the NHS
For the record, it wasn’t fake news. There was a blimp, there was a tweeting robot, and Brits braved the drizzle to make their discontent known. As the President is unable to be honest, allow me to speak from the heart. This country is an almighty mess. As the Tories squabble over the leadership of the Conservative Party like a gang of toddlers fighting over a train set, our politics is going to wall.
Boris Johnson, the bookies’ favourite to become our next PM, is in the process of being taken to court because he allegedly misled the public during the Brexit referendum. Yes, we’re talking about the bus again. Jeremey Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, is tanking in the polls at a time when the Labour Party should be out of sight. Meanwhile, American pharmaceutical companies are licking their lips at the prospect of getting their hands on the NHS.
Theresa May’s stint in Downing Street may be over, and President Trump has left the building – but Britain’s great political embarrassment is far from over. Get some rest, the next national humiliation is due any moment now.