President Donald Trump’s visit to royal England this spring captivated the British as much as Americans. Queen Elizabeth extended official state honors to him and his family, only the third time she has welcomed an American president with such honors during her 67-year reign. More than 150 participated in the royal feast with the Queen and President Trump. Despite the British rhetoric against Trump, very few dignitaries declined to attend this glamorous event.
The underlying politics marks a turning point for Great Britain, which is in the throes of division about its future. A majority want independence, as reflected by their vote in 2016 for Britain to exit Europe (“Brexit”), while a vocal minority want to be citizens of Europe.
The anti-Trump mayor of London who skipped the gala for Trump at Buckingham Palace, Sadiq Khan, predictably went on the attack. Khan published a strident article two days before Trump arrived, under the headline “It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump.” Khan even insisted that Trump somehow “flies in the face of the ideals America was founded upon.”
Confronted with these potshots by the unleashed London mayor, Trump returned the favor by tweeting against Khan as Trump arrived in England. Trump compared Khan to the disastrous mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and a greater insult is difficult to imagine.
Trump invited Britain to complete its exit from Europe without cutting any deals with the mainland, and instead look for future trade agreements with its longest ally, the United States. Trump-supporting Boris Johnson, the presumptive next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, agrees with Trump that a “no deal Brexit” is the best approach. “We will leave the [European Union] on 31 October, deal or no deal,” Johnson has declared. “The way to get a good deal is to prepare for a no deal.”
Europe’s loss can be America’s gain. A Great Britain under the conservative, Trump-like leadership of Boris Johnson can help revive that country and enable them to afford more of their share for military defense.