He’s dread­ful. But how ex­hil­a­rat­ing to have a leader who un­der­stands the yearn­ings of the Bri­tish peo­ple

Daily Mail - - The Pomp And The Pygmy - By Stephen Glover

Europe and Bri­tain have never seen any­thing like it. Don­ald Trump has been roar­ing through the con­ti­nent like a hur­ri­cane, up­set­ting politi­cians as he de­liv­ers one bomb­shell af­ter an­other.

First he picked a fight with Amer­ica’s Nato part­ners, call­ing them ‘delin­quent’ for not meet­ing their fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions to the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Ger­many’s An­gela Merkel was on the re­ceiv­ing end of the big­gest blast.

As an af­fronted Ger­man Chan­cel­lor was smooth­ing her ruf­fled feath­ers, the Great Dis­rupter turned his bom­bas­tic thoughts to Bri­tain, declar­ing that Theresa May’s Brexit plan was a be­trayal of those who wanted to leave the eu.

But far worse was to come. His con­tention in an in­ter­view with the Sun news­pa­per that her lat­est pro­posal would ‘prob­a­bly kill’ any trade deal with the US has dealt it a near mor­tal blow.

The Amer­i­can pres­i­dent de­lib­er­ately turned the knife when he de­clared that Boris John­son — who re­signed ear­lier this week in protest at Theresa May’s plan — would make a ‘great prime min­is­ter’. His state­ment, ‘I think he’s got what it takes’, car­ried the im­pli­ca­tion that she hasn’t.

It’s dif­fi­cult not to feel for Mrs May, caught in the whirl­wind. Did Trump have to hu­mil­i­ate her by prais­ing her most deadly po­lit­i­cal en­emy, who will al­most cer­tainly sooner or later try to top­ple her?

HIS sub­se­quent state­ment that he has a ‘very, very strong’ re­la­tion­ship with Mrs May will scarcely heal the wound. Nor will any­one be con­vinced by his ab­surd claim yesterday that the Sun in­ter­view was ‘fake news’. It’s all on tape!

Apart from be­ing dis­cour­te­ous to his host in Bri­tain, Trump stands guilty of in­ter­fer­ing in the po­lit­i­cal af­fairs of a sov­er­eign state by _s­in­gling out Boris for praise.

But his most in­cen­di­ary state­ment — that Bri­tain can prob­a­bly kiss good-bye to a trade deal with the US if it goes ahead with the blue­print set out in Thurs­day’s White pa­per — was per­fectly in or­der.

It is sim­ply wrong to as­sert, as Jon Sopel, the BBC’s US editor and in­vet­er­ate Trump hater re­peat­edly did on tele­vi­sion and ra­dio, that the pres­i­dent was in­ter­fer­ing in our af­fairs, as Brex­i­teers al­lege Barack obama did be­fore our referendum.

The two cases are en­tirely dif­fer­ent. David Cameron specif­i­cally asked pres­i­dent obama to is­sue the threat that Bri­tain would be re­quired to wait at ‘the back of the queue’ for a trade deal if it voted to leave the eu. Trump was ob­vi­ously not seek­ing to in­flu­ence vot­ers since there is no referendum in the off­ing. And far from spout­ing what a Bri­tish prime Min­is­ter had begged him to, he was speak­ing his own mind in a way Theresa May found deeply un­com­fort­able.

No, he was spell­ing out a home truth — namely that if Bri­tain re­mains part of the eu sin­gle _ mar­ket for man­u­fac­tured goods and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, it will be very dif­fi­cult to sign a new trade agree­ment with Amer­ica.

Maybe he ex­ag­ger­ated the im­ped­i­ments to such an agree­ment. Yesterday he back­tracked, say­ing a trade deal will ‘ab­so­lutely be pos­si­ble’. of all the peo­ple in the world, the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent surely has the right to say whether or not a trade deal with Bri­tain is on the cards.

Trump, in short, is telling it as he sees it — even if changes his line and shame­lessly de­nies what he said the pre­vi­ous day. In his forth­right and of­ten tact­less way, he ap­proaches prob­lems with a fresh eye, and a kind of blun­der­ing di­rect­ness.

That is what he did in Brus­sels on Wed­nes­day. How can it be morally de­fen­si­ble for Ger­many to de­vote a measly 1.24 per cent its na­tional eco­nomic out­put to de­fence while Amer­ica spends 3.6 per cent?

Along comes Trump, with the clear-sight­ed­ness of the out­sider, and bluntly an­nounces it can’t go on. euro­pean politi­cians and their me­dia claque nat­u­rally squeal be­cause he is up­end­ing long­stand­ing ar­range­ments which have suited them.

of course, Trump’s bark is worse than his bite. His cus­tom­ary ap­proach is to open pro­ceed­ings with a threat or an in­sult, and then to an­nounce at the con­clu­sion that he has se­cured the agree­ment he wanted, and that all par­ties are happy.

So af­ter ril­ing Nato al­lies on Wed­nes­day, he an­nounced on Thurs­day, with­out pro­duc­ing any ev­i­dence, that a con­sen­sus had been achieved that the europeans would stump up more money.

Sim­i­larly, when he leaves our shores to­mor­row for a show­down or love-in (or both) in Vladimir putin’s rus­sia, he will prob­a­bly shower Theresa May with praise in terms at vari­ance with his pre­vi­ous crit­i­cisms.

That’s his ap­proach: in­sult fol­lowed by con­cil­i­a­tion. Kim Jongun, the thug who rules North Korea, started out in Trump’s lex­i­con as ‘ lit­tle rocket man’, was par­tially em­braced, then re­jected, be­fore be­ing warmly em­braced again.

Trump’s style is un­like that of any other states­man, though in his pre­pared­ness to of­fend lead­ers, and ig­nore the scru­ples of po­lite so­ci­ety, there is some­thing of Mar­garet Thatcher about him. For all his in­ter­mit­tent wild judg­ments, and de­spite his abra­sive style, there re­mains an ex­hil­a­rat­ing fresh­ness about him — ex­hil­a­rat­ing, that is, not for the po­lit­i­cal classes, whose val­ues and be­liefs he threat­ens and dis­rupts, but for or­di­nary peo­ple who be­lieve he speaks to their fears and hopes.

Who can doubt that most of the 17.4 mil­lion vot­ers who backed Leave — and some re­main­ers frus­trated by the Govern­ment’s glacial progress in ne­go­ti­a­tions — will have raised a pri­vate cheer at Trump’s plain speak­ing on Thurs­day?

Which brings me to the pro­test­ers who have been try­ing to thwart the pres­i­dent’s visit. I per­son­ally feel re­laxed about the rel­a­tively small num­ber of demon­stra­tors.

Far more con­temptible are the virtue- sig­nalling politi­cians who are ea­ger to in­sult the leader of the Free World, and risk jeop­ar­dis­ing re­la­tions with the pres­i­dent of our most im­por­tant ally.

This is what the for­mer Deputy prime Min­is­ter, Nick Clegg, tweeted yesterday: ‘right, I’m go­ing on the anti-Trump demo. I had no in­ten­tion to, but his crazed at­tacks on the eu, Nato and WTO have changed things. He dis­likes ev­ery­thing I be­lieve in and be­lieves in every­one I dis­like!’

The Mayor of Lon­don, Sadiq Khan, could have found a per­fectly good rea­son for ban­ning the of­fen­sive 20ft bal­loon of Trump wear­ing a nappy that has been fly­ing over the cap­i­tal. Doesn’t this pa­thetic protest ex­hibit the boor­ish­ness which the pres­i­dent’s de­trac­tors claim to find in him?

How much clev­erer is em­manuel Macron in deal­ing with this force of na­ture than our home-grown dullards! When the French pres­i­dent vis­ited Wash­ing­ton in April, he al­lowed his hand to be clasped, and didn’t de­mur when Trump flicked some dan­druff off his col­lar.

BUT de­spite the en­dear­ments, he still crit­i­cised the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent’s world view in an ad­dress to Congress with al­most Trumpian bravura.

Let me say that I am re­lieved that the dread­ful Don­ald Trump is not my leader. I can see­ing how an­noy­ing he is. By his side, our own Boris John­son is the epit­ome of pro­bity and re­straint.

But what he said on the sub­ject of Brexit will have struck a chord in many hearts. We have a slow­footed and tim­o­rous Govern­ment that has taken an in­ex­cus­ably long time to pro­duce a half-baked plan cooked up by plod­ding civil ser­vants.

Al­most cer­tainly — as Boris him­self sug­gested last month in a se­cretly recorded speech — if Don­ald Trump had been ne­go­ti­at­ing our exit from the eu we would not be stuck in the ditch that we are. Nor do I think we would be if Mar­garet Thatcher had been our leader.

Fear and def­er­ence have in­formed all our deal­ings. The eu has set the agenda through­out the pro­ceed­ings, and sent our ne­go­tia­tors back to the Lon­don with the word ‘No!’ ring­ing in their ears.

None of us wants the nar­cis­sis­tic and men­da­cious Don­ald Trump. But how I long for some of the Great Dis­rupter’s courage and clear-sight­ed­ness. How re­fresh­ing, and ex­hil­a­rat­ing, to have a leader who un­der­stood the yearn­ings of the Bri­tish peo­ple.

Point­ing the fin­ger: Trump cuts through diplo­matic niceties to core is­sues

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