Trump should be welcomed
Donald Trump is going to Davos, but he’s not coming to London, ostensibly because he doesn’t like the new US embassy at Nine Elms. He’s right about it being a bad deal. The former site at Grosvenor Square is the primest of prime London property; Nine Elms is just Nine Elms. We all know the real reason, however. Mr Trump feels in some way slighted by the UK, and he doesn’t want to subject himself to the inevitable protests his presence would provoke. There is no such worry in Davos, where the gathered global elite is about as insulated from the protesting mob as it is possible to be without actually blasting off to another planet. The security is virtually impregnable.
All the same, there is a certain irony in the juxtaposition. To the extent that WEF demonstrators ever get up the mountain at all, it is to shout about the sins of globalisation, a phenomenon Davos has always both symbolised and championed. The protesters have been completely discombobulated by Trump, who inconveniently shares their mistrust of multilateralism. Yet they cannot side with the demagogue, so now they embrace the things they used to hate, if only because Trump is against them.
That the WEF’S Klaus Schwab has persuaded the Trump administration to attend is a major coup, not just because it gives the event a fascination it wouldn’t otherwise enjoy, but also because it’s about building bridges, dialogue and mutual understanding. The way to deal with Trump is not to repudiate him, but to flatter and stroke him, as the French and Chinese have understood in already lavishly hosting him in their countries.
It is utterly ludicrous that the UK, with its claimed “special relationship” and its pursuit of alternative trade deals for a post Brexit world, should, out of political correctness, be in effect snubbing him. Whether we like his America First policies or not, cooperation and pursuit of the national interest must take priority. As for Sadiq Khan, he should hang his head in shame for siding with the twitterati in welcoming Trump’s cancellation. Any London mayor worthy of the name would be rolling out the red carpet. Davos has got it right; Britain, I fear, has not.