As the embarrassing spectacle that is Donald Trump’s state visit comes to an end, you might be hoping to bookmark our warm, grovelling welcome to the president as three painful-but-necessary days which are now over and done with. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. The red-carpet reception for a man who holds Britain’s values of fairness, tolerance and honesty in disregard is just a small taster for what’s in store for Brexit Britain, as we will be forced to cling to the USA more than ever.
Broadly speaking, there are three pillars to Britain’s global influence: the European Union, multilateral institutions such as the UN, and our relationship with the US. Donald Trump is dismantling two of these. He has waged war on our rules-based international order and, along with his network of nationalist friends, looks forward to the collapse of the EU.
Of these pillars, just one remains intact: the “special relationship” we have with the US. The last vestige of hope – a UK-US trade deal – must now be made, whatever the cost, because there’s little else we have left.
We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
From 15p €0.18 $0.18 USD 0.27
a day, more exclusives, analysis and extras.
This even means granting the Americans preferential access to our NHS, which almost sounds like typical scaremongering if it weren’t for the fact that it is confirmable and true: “When you’re dealing on trade,” Trump said yesterday, “everything is on the table. So NHS or anything else. A lot more than that.” He quickly rowed back, but his own ambassador has been just as clear on America’s intention to get its hands on our health service and attack consumer rights.
Trump has hardly been subtle in his adoration for the Brexit project. His strategy feeds off breaking up Europe and forcing us to beg for a trade deal, accepting hormone-induced beef and chlorinated chicken as the price. As we voluntarily relinquish our seat at the EU and make ourselves evermore dependent on the good grace of Trump, Britain has become the second country in the world to make its motto “America First”.
But the protests yesterday proved that young people in Britain are not in any doubt who’s on our side. The president made clear his negotiating strategy before he’d even touched down in the UK: elect Boris Johnson, send in Nigel Farage to negotiate, embrace a no-deal exit and then sue the EU when things get messy. For a generation where eight in 10 want to remain in the EU, this is the opposite of anything we could support.
Our opposition to Trump goes further than Brexit, of course. Yesterday’s protest saw a diverse coalition of those standing against Trump’s misogyny, his xenophobia and his aggressive mercantilism. But for as long as the biggest issue facing our country stands to be shaped by this man, the calls to stop him must be even more urgent than ever.
Barack Obama was criticised when he spoke candidly in 2016 about his Brexit reservations. But Trump’s intervention is of a different scale entirely: he has endorsed a candidate for our next prime minister, reached out to meet others – at news of his invitation to meet the president, Michael Gove reportedly said, “Yes, absolutely!” – and advocated a no-deal Brexit which has no mandate and would wreak damage to our economy comparable to the 2008 financial crisis.
The fight against the normalisation of this president continues. But the last three days have shown us that Trump is fast becoming a very British problem. He and Brexit are inextricable: so long as Conservative candidates pledge to deliver Brexit at any cost, the pandering and simpering to this reprehensible man are set to continue.
Lara Spirit is co-president of Our Future Our Choice, a pro-European Union youth organisation campaigning for a Final Say on Brexit