President Trump’s State visit was a personal success

President Trump’s State visit was a personal success

by James Bundy
article from Thursday 6, June, 2019

THE VISIT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP to the United Kingdom was always going to be entertaining for some and controversial for others. Before he was even in the United Kingdom, the President got involved in domestic politics by endorsing Boris Johnson to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, and Prime Minister. 

Then, just before landing, President Trump caused outrage to some when he called the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a ‘stone cold loser’ and ‘nasty’ on a Twitter thread. The President might feel aggrieved, as the majority of the press whilst reporting on his tweets, did not mention that the Mayor of London called President Trump a ‘20thcentury fascist’ the day beforehis visit. The President would have been better staying above the student politics of the Mayor of London.

Unsurprisingly, these tweets dominated the President’s arrival, which might be regrettable because the rest of the day went very well. The Queen greeted President Trump at Buckingham Palace before he visited Westminster Abbey. Here the President would have seen the resting places of past British monarchs, Prime Ministers, generals, admirals, doctors and scientists. The pinnacle of the visit of Westminster Abbey was President Trump laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior – a British soldier who died in World War One but could not be identified. By laying a wreath, President Trump showed solidarity with British troops who fought dying for the freedom and liberty that the United Kingdom and United States of America both enjoy today. 

The conclusion of the President’s first day was a State Banquet hosted by the Queen. The eloquence of this dinner was very different to the Pomp & Circumstance that President Trump had experienced earlier. Both heads of state spoke about the values and institutions which tie their countries together. This would have been the personal highlight of the trip for President Trump. Political discussion would have been at a minimum but back home the images would have presented him as a statesman representing his country on the world stage. 

Say two of the visit was much more political. It started with meeting the Prime Minister and business leaders to discuss the possibility of a trade deal between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. This meeting, however, would not have been very productive. People will claim that this is because the United Kingdom will change Prime Minister next month – but that would not affect this meeting too much. The cabinet style of Government that the United Kingdom has will ensure that there is no drastic change in foreign policy when the new Prime Minister takes office. The uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, however, would have impacted what could have been discussed. If the House of Commons votes to remain in the EU Customs Union after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, the United Kingdom cannot strike a free trade deal with the United States of America. That is why those in favour of leaving the European Union argue a true departure must include being out of the Customs Union. Watch that space.

The press conference with President Trump and Prime Minister May was expected to be lively. At the last such event in London, President Trump criticised the Prime Minister’s negotiation skills. This time, however, he was more diplomatic. Both addressed each other by their formal titles and the President was careful not to step into domestic policy by avoiding commenting on the Conservative Party leadership election. President Trump, however, did cause a stir when he said that “everything would be on the table” during a future trade deal. This was immediately interpreted to include the NHS, with the Prime Minister May having to explain to President Trump what the NHS is. The outcry, however, is not justified. American companies currently provide for the NHS and will continue to do so. The President’s interests are in the pharmaceutical and clinical contracts, not health insurance. A free trade deal would make it cheaper for American companies to provide their services to the United Kingdom healthcare sector. This does not mean Brits have to pay for healthcare as the NHS would still be free at the point of use. British taxpayers’, however, could receive better value for money. 

The second stir was when he revealed that the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, had wanted to meet him. Ironically, maybe hypocritically, Jeremy Corbyn was attending a ‘Stop Trump’ protest when President Trump said this. This comment undermined the ‘Trump is a fascist so I will not meet him’ narrative that Corbyn wanted to create during this state visit. This was despite Jeremy Corbyn meeting President Xi of China despite China’s track record of abusing human rights and persecution both Muslims and Christians. 

Some have criticised President Trump for not meeting Jeremy Corbyn, but it is no surprise as Jeremy Corbyn has constantly sided with those who have took an anti-American stance – such as Iran, the Soviet Union and Cuba. 

The highlight of Tuesday for President Trump would have been the private tour of the Churchill war rooms he was given. When the President brought back the Churchill bust into the White House it was greatly appreciated in the United Kingdom. Many Brits take great pride that the elected leader of the free world and the leader of their closest ally draw inspiration from the man who led our country in their darkest hour. 

The final day of the State Visit concluded with President Trump joining various Heads of Governments and Heads of States to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. It was an extremely powerful image seeing President Trump and Her Majesty the Queen standing together to pay their respects to those who served during the invasion of Normandy. The special relationship between United Kingdom and the United States of America was on full display here. It is the strength, resilience, and sacrifice of both nations that allow us to enjoy the freedoms that we have today.  Freedoms that are, of course, used to full effect to criticise President Trump.

Overall, this was a successful visit for President Trump. Back home he would have looked Presidential ahead of the elections next year. In the United Kingdom, President Trump highlighted the importance of the special relationship. 

Whilst Brits may not like the President, they generally respect the office of the President and they certainly respect the United States of America. By reinforcing the special relationship, President Trump has done his job as American President and for that reason, this visit should be considered a success in the United States of America.  

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