Donald Trump is to make a visit to the UK next year, but it will not be a full-blown State Visit [Image: AFP].
This is a bit of good news.
It’s a stay of punishment really, because the State Visit has only been delayed.
Considering Mr Trump’s behaviour, though, it’s possible he will do something utterly unforgivable that will put a State Visit out of the question before he has a chance to turn up.
That would probably be a relief for everybody here.
Donald Trump is set to visit Britain early in 2018 – but for a stripped-down trip that will not include staying with the Queen.
Diplomats are discussing plans for a “working visit” by the US president that will be shorn of the pomp and flummery of a full-blown State Visit.
And instead of a red carpet event to showcase the special relationship, it is likely to form part of a tour of several countries by Mr Trump.
The downgrading of Mr Trump’s first trip as President to the UK follows the huge controversy when Theresa May tried to steal a march on other world leaders by offering a State Visit as guest of the Queen that was intended to take place this summer, breaching a convention that the honour is usually reserved for a president’s second term.
There were threats of boycotts and mass protests when the VIP treatment was announced – with Commons Speaker John Bercow declaring that the President would not be allowed to address the House of Commons.
The visit was then postponed indefinitely, although the invitation is expected to be taken up at some stage.
Do you enjoy a breakfast waffle? If you were listening to Radio 4’s Today programme, you got one whether you wanted it or not – from that master of baffled-gab, Boris Johnson.
In 20 minutes, he managed to reverse his ‘go whistle’ position on paying to exit the EU, back-stabbed his boss Theresa May (with a side-swipe, which makes it seem more impressive than it was), and demonstrated that he both supports and opposes Donald Trump – at the same time.
Let’s start with Brexit because he got into a real pickle over it. You will recall that he said, in Parliament, that the EU’s proposed bill for the UK to leave the political bloc were “extortionate” and that it could “go whistle”.
Today anchor Mishal Husein asked, what did he mean when he said the EU could “go whistle” over the Brexit bill?
“I was being asked about some very large sums of money… that the EU suggested we were on the hook for, and that’s not a number I recognised…” he began stumblingly (and inaccurately).
“Of course we will meet our obligations. We are law-abiding, bill-paying people. The UK has contributed hundreds of billions over the years.”
Oh! So he’s happy to pay?
“I’m not saying I accept Mr Barnier’s interpretation of what our obligations are, but we will meet our obligations as we understand them.”
He wouldn’t say how much he was prepared to pay before the sum became “extortionate”, adding: “I’m not going to get into a financial haggle…”
“Can they ‘go whistle’ if it’s more than £30 billion?” asked Ms Husein, obviously enjoying his discomfort.
And he collapsed. His response was waffle about getting “the best possible value for the UK taxpayer”.
Then he seemed to realise what he had done, because he claimed that he would give an absolutely precise answer. Here it is: “We should pay not a penny more, not a penny less, of what we think our legal obligations amount to.” Waffle.
And on the possibility of a two-to-three-year transition period, he started with more waffle about the government’s position. Pressed on what he thinks, he said: “There are several transition periods that are envisioned.” More waffle.
He went on to waffle that the UK would be “getting out with confidence and determination and doing it in a timely, orderly and effective manner”.
Grief! Boris Johnson waffling for England over Brexit on #r4today. We will leave 'with confidence and determination'. Spare us please!
“What business would want us to achieve is speed and efficiency,” he added, with the relish of a man who had reached the end of his pre-scripted lines.
“The crucial thing is certainty,” he said, oblivious of the irony in the fact that he wasn’t offering any.
If that amount of waffle is making your stomach turn over, let’s consider something else:
The backstabbing side-swipe against Theresa May came during a discussion of the political situation in Libya, where an intervention supported by the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition government of 2010-15 left the country with two rival parliaments and four governments (according to the Telegraph).
The Libyan Army band gives a unique rendition of God Save The Queen for Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson criticised US President Donald Trump over his comments following the Charlottesville rally in which an anti-fascist protester was killed, saying he was “totally wrong” to suggest that white supremacists, neo-Nazis and racists were “fine people”.
Despite this, the foreign secretary confirmed that the UK will still be welcoming Mr Trump on a state visit – at a future date that has not yet been set.
So he was both supporting and opposing Mr Trump, at the same time.
Blimey. Boris Johnson demonstrating lack of grasp on almost every issue covered on #r4today. Genuinely clueless.
— Jim Campbell — Socially Distant Since 2009 (@CampbellLetters) August 25, 2017
And Mr Johnson was mistaken on whether international students are included in official migration figures (they are; he said they weren’t)…
"To succeed in life you need two things: Ignorance and Confidence" – Mark Twain. Boris Johnson has both in spades. @BBCr4today
… and had to backtrack: “I am content with the success we are having in attracting international students”.
He said he was glad they were not overstaying their period in the UK and were “doing the right thing”. In that case, why include them in migration figures? They haven’t immigrated into the UK; they’re here for a specific purpose and then they leave.
“That is the way they are currently counted,” he dissembled.
The snap verdict, from Twitter, was damning:
Boris Johnson interviewed on #r4today reminds me of a bubbling pan of porridge
Chatting away: But so far the Tory leader has been silent on the actions of the US President [Image: Reuters].
Theresa May won’t be cancelling Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK – but that doesn’t mean we should not demand it.
The UK prime minister is a weak leader – possibly the weakest since Neville Chamberlain, whose policy of “appeasement” for Nazi Germany nearly led to disaster for the world.
She knows that Brexit will leave the country alone in a cutthroat world – competitive due to neoliberal policies that her own party has supported for more than 40 years.
She knows that she isn’t strong enough to regenerate the strength of the UK as an industrial nation – Tories have been grinding down our industries for decades.
So she knows she needs to get support from a stronger country – and Tories have always looked to the US.
It doesn’t matter that the US President is a supporter of neo-Nazis, who thinks they have “fine people” among their numbers.
Because we have returned to the politics of appeasement. And we all know how that works out.
We, on the other hand, should continue demanding that she reject Mr Trump.
It’s the right thing to do because his views are abhorrent (obviously).
It’s right because the UK must not become subordinate to a rabidly right-wing US.
And it’s right because it causes extreme embarrassment to Theresa May and her weakling government.
Theresa May is facing fresh demands to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain after her office failed to condemn the US President.
Trump shocked the world … with a public meltdown claiming there were “fine people” at a white supremacist rally and condemning “very violent” people protesting against it.
The President blamed “both sides” for violence at the Charlottesville rally – trashing his own long-awaited condemnation of neo-Nazis – despite a white nationalist protester allegedly killing an anti-racism protester by mowing her down with a car.
On Monday, at which point Trump had still not condemned protesters who chanted “Jews will not replace us” and Nazi slogan “blood and soil”, Theresa May’s official spokesman refused to comment on his claims.
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