I am cross with the post US election consensus in British politics. There seems to be a role for Britain “taming” the American right – that starts with neutering Donald Trump. This is total nonsense. Not only is it silly and impractical, it is fundamentally arrogant and disrespectful of the American people.
Meanwhile Trump is putting down markers on who in Britain , he is prepared to talk to. That list includes Theresa May who Tump regards as the New Thatcher (Casting him as the new Reagan?).
Despite our Foreign Minister’s determination to get himself into the argument. I have not heard any reports of Trump being interested in talking with him. Johnson is falling over himself to distance himself from the “collective whingorama” and be “overwhelmingly positive” about the opportunities of a Trump presidency. I suspect that Trump may remember Johnson branding him “out of his mind” a couple of months ago.
I am not at all sure that Britain is using Nigel Farage as a “go-between” – as reported by the Telegraph. As far as I can see, the only person who currently has a “special relationship” with Trump is Farage (though May has again skilfully avoided the Johnsonian banana skins.
As I’ve mentioned before, I had a chance. a few days ago to talk with Farage in a pub and ask him about his view on Trump.
That strikes precisely the right balance for me. Trump is often distasteful, sometimes disgusting and rarely someone who I like. But he is the next President of the United States and he is the businessman icon that the American people have chosen to change things for them.
It strikes me that Farage is speaking from personal conviction and that Johnson is speaking the kind of inflammatory nonsense that makes matters worse.
If we are to have an ambassador to America, Farage may be the right man. Not only is he out of British office but he is in Trump’s office.
We need to be grown up and accept that working with Trump does not mean condoning what he says and does.
On the things that matter to all of us, the global issues of Climate Change and Trade, we have leverage on the United States only through co-operation. There is no reason for Trump respecting the Paris treaty , he can rip that up as he can build a wall between him and Mexico, or stop Obamacare. The point we should be making is that it is in the mutual self-interest of both our countries not to destroy the planet for our children.
My conversation with Farage did not suggest that he wasn’t interested in his children nor that he disagreed with the aims of the Paris agreement.
More importantly, Farage is someone who is greatly respected by a huge number of British people and an increasing number of Americans.
If we really care about people “just getting by’ or the “rust-belt blue collar workers”, then we cannot dismiss Trump and we cannot ignore Farage. We should recognise that they are part of an answer rather than the problem.
I speak as a Liberal, someone who has spent the last few weeks seriously questioning my liberal values and asking whether they are in fact self-serving. I have come to the conclusion that I am deeply out of touch with most people in Britain and that the world has moved on (and I haven’t).
Which is why I am more interested in Farage representing our interests in the States than Johnson and why it is time we started taking Donald Trump as more than a pantomime villain.
Since publishing this blog we have had the awkward sight of “Brussels and Berlin” convening a supper to discuss what to do about Trump (or perhaps Trump and Farage).
High on the agenda were issues of security; but the two chief military powers within the 28 (France and Britain) snubbed the event. So did Hungary whose leader dubbed the EU response to Trump “hysterical”.
The supper’s failure illustrates another issue: diplomats and analysts have repeatedly called for Germany to show more leadership on European topics. Yet when it does, others fail to follow.
Instead, the EU leaves a vacuum – a gap that a grinning Mr Farage is happy to fill