If, as seems increasingly likely, Jeremy Corbyn becomes British Prime Minister in June, his victory should be greeted not simply with incredulity in the United States, but also elation. A Corbyn triumph should arrive as soothing balm to Donald Trump’s wounded feelings. Corbyn stands for much of what Trump has espoused. Both men revile NATO, favour protectionism, admire Russia and want to upend the traditional political establishment. And both men were long dismissed as having zero chance at winning. And now?
A Corbyn victory would help put wind in Trump’s sails. Take foreign policy. Trump was manifestly uncomfortable during his brief visit to NATO, shoving aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro and hectoring the allies about their niggardly defense outlays. With Corbyn as Prime Minister, Trump would have a soulmate, someone he could instinctively trust when it comes to espousing an emollient approach towards Moscow. As Corbyn has put it, “there cannot be a return to a cold war mentality.” Trump couldn’t agree more.
The upsides for Trump are manifestly clear. Where Trump stands accused of being soft on Russia, Corbyn is truly pro-Soviet. It’s not always clear what motivates Trump. Business interests? Fear of Kremlin sex tapes? The desire to cut a grand realpolitik deal that shows he is truly Mr. Big when it comes to world diplomacy? With Corbyn at the helm, much of this would be put into the shade. Any sins of Trump look venial next to Corbyn’s. The fact is that Corbyn seems never to have encountered a Marxist leader he didn’t adulate. His most recent man-crush was on Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Now maybe Vladimir Putin will rise to the top of his affections.
In addition, Corbyn, like Trump, views the European Union with deep suspicion. Forget Putin’s failed efforts to influence the French elections. Britain is the real prize. If Corbyn climbs to the top of the greasy pole, Putin will hardly be able to believe his luck. The western alliance would be sundered from within. The Baltic States would quake. The only remaining redoubt of anti-Russian animus would be Frau Merkel’s Germany.
Another advantage for Trump would be that it would take the pressure off America. To have a leader even more bonkers than him as the head of the quondam Anglo-Saxon imperium would help deflect some of world’s scorn away from Washington towards London. Corbyn’s ability to guide a government effectively might well be even more hapless than Trump’s.
When it comes to terrorism, Trump and Corbyn might have different views. Corbyn appears to view British entanglements in the Middle East as the source of terrorism inside the UK. Trump, by contrast, has huffed and puffed about wiping out evil from the Middle East and upped America’s military footprint. Still, Trump did denounce the Iraq War and has made it clear, at least rhetorically, that he doesn’t want to get enmeshed in new wars.
Like Trump, who is now putting together an “A Team” led by Steve Bannon to battle allegations on Russia, Corbyn would have to go to war against the British deep state. There can be little doubting that Corbyn, viewed with apprehension and horror, by much of the establishment, would have to battle it, much as Trump is doing. But put aside politics for a moment. The deepest similarity between Trump and Corbyn may be cultural.
In this regard, the most potent bond between the two men might be their similar approaches to marriage, which might best be defined as one of turbulence. Both are on their third wives. Both are foreigners. And both are decades younger than them. Corbyn’s virility, more than anything else, might earn Trump’s respect.
So don’t assume that the special relationship is about to suffer a brutal buffeting if Corbyn becomes Prime Minister. Quite the contrary. The ties that bind Washington and London may well improve if May is ousted from Downing Street.
Freddy Gray and Quinn Mecham consider Trump’s first big foreign trip: