Theresa May used her first big speech on foreign policy last night to spell out the need for globalisation to change. She adopted a softer approach than she did in her conference speech, when she went on the warpath against the liberal elite, says James Forsyth. Yet she remained clear: this year’s political upheaval shows something needs to give. It’s hard to fault that thinking, but while many would agree with the Prime Minister, does May have the answers for what this change should look like?
No, says the Guardian, which slates Theresa May for having no answers to the key questions left following Donald Trump’s election victory. The paper says the Prime Minister gave an ‘interesting’ speech at last night’s Lord Mayor’s Banquet. But the Guardian’s editorial says that it’s obvious her approach is ‘flawed’. It says that while it’s undeniable that May ‘understands that Trump’s election was caused in part by some voters feeling left behind by the unfairnesses of the liberal global order’, May has no real idea of how to deal with these issues. ‘May’s problem is that she does not have the answer to her own big public policy question,’ the paper suggests. And the Guardian goes on to say that once the task of Brexit gets underway, her job will become even trickier.
Is there room for Nigel Farage to help Theresa May in her dealings with Donald Trump? The answer from Downing Street couldn’t have been clearer yesterday: there would be no third man in the relationship. The Times says that while a formal role might be out of the question, Farage could – and should – use his close ties with Trump to help Britain out. The paper argues that ‘there is nothing to stop him using his friendship with Mr Trump discreetly and informally to promote British interests’. But the Times says, so far this has not been Farage’s priority. Instead, the paper suggests, the stand-in Ukip leader used his hour with Trump to make a dig at MPs who had previously spoken out against the new president-elect. But there’s still a chance Farage could be put to use, says the Times. And if Farage is ‘serious about his commitment to the national interest’, he should speak up for Britain the next time he bumps into Trump, the paper’s editorial says.
The Daily Telegraph agrees with that assessment. It says that Theresa May should listen to Nigel Farage for a simple reason – she needs all the help she can get. The paper admits that the Ukip leader might be a ‘divisive figure’ and an ‘acquired taste’, but it’s simply not true to call him an ‘irrelevance’, as a Downing Street spokesman has done. It says No.10’s dismissal of Farage was ‘short-sighted’ and calls on the government to have a re-think: Farage may still be able to play a key role in helping Britain, the paper says. And the prize of a seat in the Lords might be enough to convince Farage it’s worth his while lending a helping hand, the Telegraph suggests.
Elsewhere, the Daily Mail attacks Jean-Claude Juncker for again talking about the need for an EU army. It says that Juncker’s decision to renew mention of the subject in the wake of Trump’s victory shows ‘there is no crisis the EU won’t use to try to seize power from member states’. But an EU army isn’t the answer, the paper insists. Instead, its time for those countries which have refused to meet the two per cent target for spending on military defence set by Nato – including Spain, France, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands – to put their hands in their pockets and make do with the current alliance.
Meanwhile in the Sun, it’s Keith Vaz who comes in for a hard time. The Labour MP is accused of making a ‘complete mockery’ of Parliament after having been tasked with scrutinising a crime bill in the Commons. The paper says that it’s both ‘absurd’ and ‘wrong’ to have Vaz looking into policy on crime when he is facing a police probe of his own. ‘MPs must vote to kick Vaz off these committees until the police investigation has concluded’, the paper concludes.