It’s a shame that protocol, being protocol, prevents Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson from meeting President-elect Donald Trump during his trip to Washington. Boris can’t even meet Rex Tillerson, the man Trump has chosen as his Secretary of State, until Tillerson is confirmed by the senate.
A Trump-Johnson encounter would be a meeting of considerable media and public interest: the Donald and the Boris have become aligned in people’s minds ever since the EU referendum, when Nick Clegg and others called Johnson ‘Trump with a thesaurus’ and so on.
It’s true that Boris is, in a tabloid sense, a thinking man’s Trump. The two men are born New Yorkers. They share an enthusiasm for women (in a dangerous male predator sense), as well as for entertainment and jingoism. They both have amusing hair and find it politically advantageous to be mistaken for idiots. They are both capable of charm — yes, Trump can be charming – and use humour to conceal their ambitions. The two men would surely get on like a house on fire.
But we are where we are. Boris has instead met Trump’s key advisers and Trump will meet Theresa May in March — and we can be sure that those two will not have so much fun together. Of course, it’s not imperative that politicians enjoy themselves, and everybody in right-thinking circles is so horrified of Trump that they quite like the thought that May will ‘raise concerns’ about the president elect’s misogyny and his closeness to Putin — as if Trump would give the faintest damn.
But given Britain’s increasing insignificance as a global power, and our precarious situation what with Brexit, our country needs the special relationship more than ever. It is therefore in the national interest that yesterday Boris met Steve Bannon, who will be the next US president’s consigliere, and Trump’s amazingly influential son-in-law Jared Kushner. The meeting prompted Trump’s tweet that he was ‘very much’ looking forward to meeting May in March. The Trump team, and especially Steve Bannon, are enthused about Brexit — Bannon sees it as part of the global revolution against globalism that he wants to bring about. Boris’s role connecting Trumpworld and Brexit could be hugely important.
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