As president Donald Trump’s U.K. visit draws to a close, there is no doubt that his words before arrival suggesting that the British government is in “turmoil” were somewhat prophetic.
It was unfortunate for British prime Minister Theresa May that this historic visit coincided with the release of her plans for a “successful Brexit” that saw two cabinet ministers resign and a wealth of her own party officials demand a vote of No Confidence in her leadership. Her standing in the U.K. is at its lowest point seen so far. A recent poll taken on June 10/11 showed that of pro-Brexit voters:
- 76% say the government is negotiating Brexit “badly.”
- 57% “oppose” Theresa May’s vision of Brexit.
She isn’t too popular with voters who would prefer to remain within the EU either, many of whom would prefer to have a government run by the opposition Labour Party.
While the majority of media attention focused on the anti-Trump protests that took place, little attention has been paid to what actually occurred between the two national leaders.
Trump on Brexit
Earlier in the week, the president made clear that the British government’s current plan for Brexit, which a majority of Brits think is Brexit in name only, would “kill” the possibility for a trade deal between the two nations.
During the official speeches, the president dialed back his rhetoric on Mrs. May’s poor handling of the Brexit negotiation. He said:
“Once the Brexit process is concluded and perhaps the UK has left the EU. I don’t know what they are going to do, but whatever you do is OK with me, that’s your decision… Just make sure we can trade together, that’s all that matters.”
But it was later revealed that behind closed doors, Trump suggested in a private meeting with May that she sue the EU. May later told the BBC:
“He told me I should sue the EU. Sue the EU. Not go into negotiations – sue them.”
Although the PM attempted to laugh off the suggestion, the reality is that the EU uses courts to enforce its position on a regular basis. The European Union is presently suing the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland over their refusal to take in EU-imposed migrants.
Trump and the Queen
The president attended a short lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor castle that involved pomp and circumstance, a stroll and conversation. Trump said of the Queen:
“She’s a fantastic woman; so much energy and smart and sharp. She was amazing! Such a wonderful lady and so beautiful! It was such an honor to finally meet her. To have a Queen like that is great.”
Princes William and Charles declined to attend.
Trump and the Protests
London spent the weekend in flux as both pro-Trump and anti-Trump rallies took place. The media seemed keen to point out the anti-rallies to the president at every opportunity, clearly hoping for a reaction. Trump said:
“Some of them are protesting in my favor, you know that? There are many, many protests in my favor.”
And when asked about the notorious Trump Baby blimp, he responded:
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London.”
As Trump continues on to Helsinki for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, it seems likely that this week, beginning with NATO, will go down in history as a defining moment for the president. While the left gnash their teeth and express their own anger and hate, the grown-ups just keep going and get things done.