politics

Trump's Compliments for May Are Worse Than His Insults

Britain's genuflection to this pariah is sickening to watch.

Simon Childs

Simon Childs

(Paul Grover/Shutterstock)

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Who are the real virtue signallers? According to various right-wing talking heads, the protests against Donald Trump are the performative outrage of hypocritical middle class liberals, or just an immature waste of time – a raspberry blown at a man who might not be everyone's cup of tea, but let's face it: is basically a decent chap who might say some inopportune things from time to time, but calls it as he sees it and has some rather good ideas actually, and not that I would vote for him, perish the thought, but I would vote for him.

In fact, anyone who really wants a lesson in embarrassing political showmanship should take a look at the carnival of cravenness that is Britain’s official welcome.

Trump turned up to Blenheim Palace in the presidential vehicle nicknamed The Beast. "If you want a projection of power in the world, there are few better ways to do it than to turn up in this particular car," purred a commentator on BBC News. May and Trump walked up to the palace, the Prime Minister clinging desperately to Trump's claw, and were treated to a full military brass band. Even his dinner last night has been invested with diplomatic meaning – including a starter of Scottish salmon as a nod to his heritage – as if his digestive tract has a knack for foreign affairs. Trump’s time in the UK has been billed as a "working visit", but it is being given all of the bells and whistles of a state visit, including a meeting with the Queen.

Perception matters. Foreign office minister Alan Duncan is insisting that the meeting has been a "success", even as Donald Trump told the Sun that May had ruined Brexit and possibly killed off a trade deal with the US.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah was one of the few who wasn’t having it, tweeting, "Where are your manners, Mr President?" unknowingly mimicking the piss-taking Resistance Hole article, "Excuse Me, Mr. Trump, Sir, But, Respectfully, Dr. Trump, Mind You, Captain President, Sir, And There's Nothing You Can Do About It, Good Professor!" I suppose if you’re a minister serving in a government that pursues its own racist policies, complaints about etiquette are the only ones you can really make.

But so much worse than the insults that she will suck up are the plaudits that Theresa May will gladly trade with this pariah.

In his Sun interview, Trump gave a terrifying drumroll of far-right talking points, including: "Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame," claiming that London is "losing its culture" thanks to immigration, and blaming terrorism and crime in London on Sadiq Khan. (He also spoke of his sadness at feeling unwelcome in London: good.)

None of that stopped May laying it on thick at a press conference this afternoon, pledging her allegiance to the transatlantic relationship and talking of "our democratic values and our commitment to justice", and "common interests they create that we see across the breadth of our societies".

Trump returned the favour in his weird way, waxing about the Second World War as "a really special victory", and answering a question about that Sun interview, saying it was "fake news" that he had insulted May, adding that he records his media appearances now: "We solved a lot of problems with the good old recording instrument." He then patronisingly added: "I think she's doing a terrific job, by the way," like a teacher of a stupid but obedient child at parents' evening.

The British government is doing its best to signal its obsequiousness. It could hardly genuflect any lower in the name of our alliance with Mordor. The real virtue signallers are those who surrender to this embarrassing shit-show. The rest of us are capable of showing we're just as good at throwing shade. The protester who made a banner screaming "SHITLER GO HOME" was on to something.

@SimonChilds13

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

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