Britain should seek Donald Trump’s respect, not his affection


THE urgency with which Britain’s Brexiteer elite has scrambled to cosy up to Donald Trump in the weeks building up to today’s inauguration has been something to behold. Leading the way was Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, flashing a mile-wide grin as he posed for souvenir snaps with the president-elect. Last week Michael Gove made the same pilgrimage. The former justice secretary, now writing for the Times, could barely conceal how impressed he was by America’s macho new helmsman: beaming for a goofy, thumbs-up photo and writing up the encounter in excruciating terms: “Mr Trump’s conversation flows like a river in spate, overwhelming interruptions and objections, reflecting the force of nature that is the man.”

The reflex goes all the way to the top: Theresa May greeting the November election result without the reserved language of, say, Angela Merkel. On January 15th her government infuriated other EU members by boycotting the Middle East peace conference in Paris to curry Mr Trump’s favour. In her big Brexit speech on Tuesday the prime minister hailed the president-elect’s talk of a prompt trade deal as an early triumph for her “Global Britain” agenda. After a week in which the tone of British-European relations has greatly soured, Mr Trump’s enthusiasm for Brexit and hostility to the EU is touted as a great boost for Britain in its coming exit talks. Perhaps, it is suggested, America’s new president will open the door to a new golden age of Anglo-Saxon friendship.

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