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Britain's Brexit Future Leaves Us At The Mercy Of All The Donald Trumps Of This World

02/02/2017 13:29
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The spectacle of Theresa May sucking up to Donald Trump on her recent visit was excruciating to watch, but the haste with which she flew to his side was perhaps even more indicative of how their relationship is likely to develop.

It's become apparent over the last few months that the PM has very little in the way of options and even less in terms of an actual plan, particularly for Brexit. She's rightfully earned a reputation for evasiveness, not least over the failure of the Trident missile test and what would be on the negotiating table between her and Trump. Ominously, she refused to confirm or deny that allowing US companies greater access to an increasingly privatised NHS would be on the agenda.

Even though she was a remainer during the referendum campaign, she's now politically stymied by the outcome of the vote. He position relies on her seeing Brexit through whether she likes it or not. She has to push forward with the so-called will of the people no matter how naive, unworkable or destructive that may be.

Equally she has no choice but to stay on the right side of Donald Trump. As a seasoned politician she may be back-footed by the blunt approach of someone who has no experience of national government and all the decorum of a flatulent water buffalo. A man about as qualified for the post of leader of the free world as Roy Chubby Brown would be to chair a forum on women's rights. But somehow this has happened and she has to deal with this surreal slice of the Twilight Zone we've come to call reality.

May's failure to condemn Trump's ill-judged and inhumane Muslim travel ban could be seen as an indication of her own feelings on such matters. Likewise her failure to do the same after he admitted that he wasn't too averse to a bit of waterboarding. Perhaps she's just being pragmatic, but we shouldn't forget that Mrs May wasn't exactly the MILF of human kindness during her time as Home Secretary.

But ultimately her personal feelings are irrelevant. She has no choice but to side with Trump. She's not going to risk upsetting this famously paranoid and approval seeking man-baby right after holding hands with him in the White House. Neither is she going to cancel her patently premature invitation for a state visit, no matter how many million clicks an online petition gets.

And how premature is breath-taking, coming just 7 days after his inauguration, compared to 978 and 758 respectively for the last two incumbents. Even Lord Ricketts, the former head of the Foreign Office has said May's invite for a state visit was surprising and has put the Queen in a "very difficult position". Oh how I long for the old pre-Boris days of genteel FO understatements!

And why is Mrs May so keen? Well we're about to alienate ourselves from the largest trading bloc on the planet, and in a twist of fate of biblical proportions, Trump is her only ticket to the second largest. Essentially she's snookered. Neatly painted into a political corner by Brexiteers on one side and rust belt blowhards on the other. Living in hope that the oozing obsequiousness of Michael Gove's unanswered entreaties to please give us a few crumbs off the big table will turn out to be more substantial than his gelatinous backbone.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping's visit in 2015 inspired plenty of street rallies, but they were tea dances compared to what Trump has stirred up. No doubt when he does pop over to compare heavily gilded furnishings with Her Madge, the level of protest will be turned up to 11. If the last few days are anything to go by, this will bring the country to a standstill, and rightly so. If nothing else that sounds like a pretty good reason to let him come.

The question is how will Trump react to this level of protest? As a man who believes so strongly in his own self-sold legend, will his famously unbridled spite be directed at the people of the UK for daring to not to love him? Will even Theresa The Appeaser be able to offset that level of public opprobrium with anything short of conferring upon him the title of King of Scotland?

And where do we go from here? As the prospect of a hard Brexit looms, what if a trade deal with the US doesn't happen? Or, maybe even worse, what if it does? What path do all these conspiracies of circumstances put us on?

We appear to be caught between a rock and a hard place, where moral choices may be severely curtailed by our collective survival instinct. As we bob about in our lifeboat watching the EU sailing off into the sunset, it may not be the most opportune time to annoy the sharks.

Perhaps there are pointers in other aspects of Theresa May's behaviour. The threat during her Brexit speech to turn the UK into a huge offshore tax haven and her stop off after her US visit to complete a multi-billion pound arms deal with another despot in Turkey.

The PM was at pains to paint herself and Trump as the vanguards of a new global political order. That would suggest we have a choice in this relationship. Whereas what we really have is a shotgun marriage born of economic necessity and political pragmatism. We simply have no other alternative but to bend over, pucker up and take whatever The Donald wants to give us.

Regardless of the fate of Trump and his bizarre administration, May's behaviour since his inauguration tells us one thing. That under her own, poorly mandated, unelected, de facto presidency, the future role of the UK will be as little more than an arms dealer, funny-money shuffler and lapdog to the every tyrant, autocrat and bully that will cut us a quick deal.

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