Notes From the Margins…

Trump: All Hail to the Chief

  • June 03, 2019
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I’ve been away from the UK the last week, and made it back just in time for the state visit of the Trump clan.  I’m glad I did, because just to know that Trump and co are now walking on my ancestral soil is oddly bracing, rejuvenating,  and above all educational.

I mean, what patriotic Brit would not want to be here, watching a government whose incompetence has taken the world’s breath away, grovel at the feet of a narcissistic, unstable and dangerous liar who barely knows what he’s thinking or doing from one moment to the next?

Not since Michael Corleone and Hymen Roth turned up in Batista’s Havana have a country’s rulers been so desperate to please.  The ‘special relationship’ has always been overrated as a partnership of equals, by us Brits at least, and most of the time by American leaders and diplomats insofar as it suited them.   How often have we heard that we are united by unique bonds of language, custom and tradition etc.

Occasionally US statesman have expressed a less flattering view of that relationship.  In 1962, former US Secretary of State Dean Acheson infuriated our leaders and commentators, when he gave a speech in which he observed

Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role. The attempt to play a separate power role — that is, a role apart from Europe, a role based on a ‘special relationship’ with the United States, a role based on being head of a ‘commonwealth’ which has no political structure, or unity, or strength — this role is about played out. Great Britain, attempting to be a broker between the United States and Russia, has seemed to conduct policy as weak as its military power.

If Acheson thought we were weak then, I wonder what he would make of us now, as we stand on the brink of losing not just an empire but a country, and with no sign of any ‘role’ on the horizon except possibly to be asset-stripped by an American administration whose president, for reasons known only to himself, required a heady dose of British pomp and circumstance to prove to himself that he really is the equal of his predecessors.

The rest of us may need a little more convincing.   Even before touching ground this morning, Trump had interfered in British domestic politics in ways that can only be described as unseemly.

Not only did he tell the country that he wanted Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister, but he also suggested that Nigel Farage – who is not even an MP – should be placed in charge of the ‘negotiations’ with the EU.   Even as his plane descended he took time out to call the mayor of London a ‘stone-cold loser’ on twitter, showing all the gravitas and statesmanship that we have come to expect from him.

None of this matters to Theresa May and her government of clowns.  Right now, if the White House was occupied by Pere Ubu, he could stumble off Air Force One in his underpants effing and blinding with an empty bottle of Chivas Regal in his hand  and a call girl on his arm and still get a 41-gun salute, a phalanx of Beefeaters, and dinner with the Queen.

Because this government is desperate for a trade deal, and I mean desperate.  And the Tory leadership contenders are desperate too, because they sense that in some obscure way, their destinies are also tied to the orange-haired monstrosity who now stalks the nation with his corrupt clan in tow.

So if Trump doesn’t like Huawei, you can bet we’re going to get rid of it too.  If Jared Kushner – Mr 666 Fifth Avenue himself – wants us to subscribe to his half-witted attempts to humiliate the Palestinians still further in the next round of the ‘peace process’, he can count on us.  If John Bolton want us to impose sanctions on Iran and maybe drop some bombs too, we’ll do it.

Just sign the damn deal. Because that’s what being Global Britain means and that’s what we got our sovereignty back for.

And Trump knows that he can take whatever he wants and make us do whatever the US wants, because without a US trade deal after Brexit, we will be sliding even deeper into the swamp that we have created for ourselves, and the Tory Party might just disappear forever.

We know now, thanks to the interview that the US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson gave on the Marr show yesterday, what that deal might look like.  According to Johnson its terms and conditions are already being discussed, in preparation for negotiations that will be concluded ‘as expeditiously as any in history’.



The whole economy will be part of the negotiations, including the NHS or ‘our NHS’ – as Tory politicians like to describe it.  Johnson talked briefly about agriculture and food standards and insisted that US food standards were as safe as they are in Europe.

There is a lot of evidence to the contrary, which Marr did not pick up on.  He could have asked why certain US food and agricultural products are banned or restricted in Europe if standards are the same, and he might also have picked up on Johnson’s suggestion regarding EU restrictions on certain foodstuffs that ‘ if we could put that in reverse then we’d all make a lot of money.’

Johnson made it clear that if a US trade deal goes ahead, previously prohibited US agricultural goods will enter the country and the British people will be given a ‘choice’ over whether to accept them. This choice is a false choice.

When food standards drop, they drop, and many consumers presented with cheaper US products are likely to buy them because they are cheap, regardless of the impact on their health.  That’s what people will generally do when they don’t have much money.

It’s the job of a government seriously interested in protecting the nation’s health to avoid that ‘choice’ by enforcing food standards, not lowering them.  But right now, we have a government that is not interested in anything but itself, and that is why Trump is here.

And that is why I feel lucky, privileged even, to be here at this historic moment, and able to witness the latest chapter in our vertiginous descent.


Featured photo by Lorie Shaull.  Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Carrie

    3rd Jun 2019 - 3:25 pm

    On Radio 4’s Today this morning, after a discussion in which Jeremy Hunt was challenged by Nick Robinson about who takes the final decision re Huawei, and despite side-stepping and bluster by Hunt, it was clear that the USA (now) has a veto.

    No Mrs May to argue with plus many candidates for the top job willing to suck up to Trump in return for a trade deal to deflect the effects of a no-deal Brexit. I doubt very much that a new Prime Minister will stand up for the Cabinet’s recent position, so ‘bye Huawei’. (And isn’t the whole issue a joke anyway when the CIA (among others?) is know to have multiple ‘backdoors’ into phones and our most-used Internet & computer technologies?)

    • Matt

      6th Jun 2019 - 7:26 pm

      Yes I agree. The fact that ‘we’ are doing this is often ignored -despite Snowden and others.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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