Theresa May should have aligned with the EU and Canada at the G7 – not Trump’s America

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That was bad enough, but she spoke up for Donald Trump after he had humiliated her by refusing a one-to-one meeting at the G7. Not only that, but he refused because he had had enough of her “school mistress” tone. No 10 naturally told journalists that no such meeting had been asked for, and they weren’t expecting such a thing, but it was plainly a snub. 

It was part of a bouquet of dissings handed out by the most childish holder of high office in an advanced modern democracy. Yesterday Trump made clear that he would turn up late and leave early at a summit he regarded as a distraction. Yesterday, he told off Justin Trudeau of Canada and Emmanuel Macron of France for complaining about his trade war, saying they charge the US “massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers”. He signed off on Twitter: “Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”

But Theresa May ignored the rebuff and told journalists on the plane to Canada that America had made a positive contribution at international summits on shutting down online terrorist propaganda and in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table. 

UK news in pictures

UK news in pictures

7 June 2018

Brexit Secretary David Davis, right, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox leave 10 Downing Street. Prime Minister Theresa May held an emergency Brexit cabinet meeting in an attempt to resolve tensions over the UK’s Irish border plan.

6 June 2018

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May welcomes Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Downing Street.

5 June 2018

British fashion designer and environmental campaigner, Dame Vivienne Westwood delivers an anti-fracking letter to 10 Downing Street in London.

4 June 2018

New images issued by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry of the kitchen in flat 16 where the fire started on June 14 last year. Seventy-one people were killed after the fire tore through the housing block in Kensington.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry/PA

3 June 2018

Bishop of Southwark Christopher Chessun and members of the public attend a commemoration service on the first anniversary of the London Bridge terror attack. Britain held a national minute of silence on June 3, one year on from the London Bridge terror attack that killed eight people and injured dozens more.

2 June 2018

William Buick ridding Masar celebrates crossing the line and winning the Investec Derby race on Derby Day at Epsom Downs.

1 June 2018

Traffic passes anti-Brexit signs on the County Derry/Londonderry Northern Ireland and County Donegal in the Irish Republic. Northern Ireland could be given joint EU and UK status and a ‘buffer zone’ on its border with the Republic, under new plans being drawn up by David Davis, according to reports.

31 May 2018

Eleanor Crossey Malone displays an abortion pill packet after taking a pill as abortion rights campaign group ROSA, Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity distribute abortion pills from a touring bus in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Flouting Northern Irish governmental laws which forbid the use of abortion pills the group are also protesting outside offices belonging to the main political parties in the province. Women in Northern Ireland have been prosecuted for buying abortion pills over the internet and it is illegal for a woman to have an abortion unless in special circumstances unlike the rest of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland voted in favour of pro-choice last week in a referendum.

30 May 2018

West Midlands Police officers carrying out scene searches near to where a 15-year-old boy was fatally stabbed in Wolverhampton.

29 May 2018

A view at Westminster Abbey from the medieval Triforium that is hosting an exhibition in London. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, set more than 16 meters, (52 feet) above the Abbey floor in the medieval Triforium, will open to the public for the first time on June 11, displaying over 300 treasures from the Abbey’s collection which will tell the rich thousand-year history of the institution at Westminster Abbey.

28 May 2018

People enjoy the hot weather on Bournemouth Beach during bank holiday Monday in Dorset.

27 May 2018

Chris Ashton of the Barbarians scores against England at Twickenham.

26 May 2018

Lightning strikes over the city of London.

25 May 2018

Rory Mcilroy took the clubhouse lead in to round three of the BMW PGA championship at Wentworth.

Action Images via Reuters

24 May 2018

Alastair Cook batting against Pakistan during the first test match of the summer at Lord’s cricket ground, London.

23 May 2018

Home Secretary Sajid Javid speaking at the annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

22 May 2018

Felix, two,sits next to messages and flowers left in Manchester, ahead of the Manchester Arena National Service of Commemoration at Manchester Cathedral to mark one year since the Manchester attack.

21 May 2018

Marcio and Andreia Gomes, parents of Logan Gomes, arrive for a commemoration hearing at the opening of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster, in London.

20 May 2018

Brackley Town celebrate after winning The Buildbase FA Trophy Final after they beat Bromley on penalties at Wembley Stadium.

19 May 2018

Actress, Meghan Markle, reaches Prince Harry at the altar in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for their wedding service.

18 May 2018

Workers from the Covent Garden branch of TGI Fridays on a picket line outside the restaurant as they strike in a dispute over pay. Members of Unite are taking action on Friday in a row over tips and payment of the minimum wage.

17 May 2018

A police officer talks to a homeless man in Windsor ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

16 May 2018

Wing Commander John Butcher, Commanding Officer of 617 Squadron, left, jokes with Britain’s last surviving ‘Dambuster’, Squadron Leader George “Johnny” Johnson, during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the ‘Dambusters’ raids, at RAF Coningsby. The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was hoping to fly one of the two remaining Avro Lancaster bombers over the Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs, but high winds prevented the aircraft from taking off. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the RAF and the 75th anniversary of the 617 Squadron Dambusters operation. The Dambuster raids, or ”peration Chastise’ was an attack on German dams on 16-17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, using an innovative ‘bouncing bomb’, which skimmed on the surface of the reservoir before hitting the dam wall and exploding.

15 May 2018

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks as British Prime Minister Theresa May listens during a press conference after their meeting at 10 Downing Street. Erdogan is in the UK for a three-day visit, which includes a closing lecture at the Tatlidil Forum in Oxford, an audience with The Queen and talks with Theresa May.

14 May 2018

The funeral cortege of Alfie Evans goes past Everton’s Goodison Park ground in Liverpool. Doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool stopped providing life-support treatment to Alfie last month after his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, lost two rounds of fights in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.

13 May 2018

Daisy May Cooper, the winner of the Female in a Comedy award for ‘This Country’, with her Bafta.

12 May 2018

Thousands of union members march through central London demanding a ‘new deal’ for workers, in an event organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

11 May 2018

Jeremy Corbyn with shipbuilding apprentices at the Fairfield Ship Building Museum in Govan. During a speech a he called for navy shipbuilding contracts to stay in the UK.

10 May 2018

Dominick Chilcott, right, British ambassador in Turkey, hands over a letter of apology from the UK government to Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj, at the British Consulate, in Istanbul. Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife, Fatima Boudchar, allege they were detained in southeast Asia in 2004 and sent to Libya to be interrogated by the regime of late dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Britain acknowledged Thursday that its intelligence agents played a role in the kidnapping and torture of an opponent of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a rare admission of wrongdoing by British spies.

9 May 2018

The coffin of former House of Commons speaker Lord Michael Martin, followed by his widow Mary, is carried from St Aloysius in Glasgow after his funeral. The former Labour MP died on Sunday April 29 after a short illness at the age of 72.

31/50 8 May 2018

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Labour MP Heidi Alexander. Ms Alexander is standing down from Parliament after being confirmed as London’s deputy mayor for transport, replacing current deputy mayor Val Shawcross.

32/50 7 May 2018

Arsene Wenger bids farewell to Arsenal football club and the stadium he helped to build in more ways than one. It was Wenger’s final home game of after 22 years in charge. Arsenal sent him off with a 5-0 victory over Burnley.

33/50 6 May 2018

Manchester City celebrate with the trophy after winning the Premier League title.

Action Images via Reuters

34/50 5 May 2018

Anti-independence supporters wave Union Jack flags as thousands of demonstrators march in support of Scottish independence through the streets of Glasgow.

35/50 4 May 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May with her supporters during a visit to Wandsworth Town Hall, where the Conservative Party retained control of Wandsworth Council in the local elections.

36/50 3 May 2018

Jeremy Corbyn outside a polling station in Islington after voting in the local elections.

37/50 2 May 2018

A memorial to George Michael outside his house in Highgate, north London. George Michael’s family have since asked fans to remove their tributes from outside the late singer’s former homes for the sake of his neighbours.

38/50 1 May 2018

Leicester Morrismen during May Day celebrations at Bradgate Park in Newtown Linford, Leicestershire.

39/50 30 April 2018

Sajid Javid outside the Home Office in Westminster after he was appointed as the new Home Secretary.

40/50 29 April 2018

Celtic celebrate after winning they confirmed winning the Scottish Premiership by beating rivals Rangers 5-0 at Celtic Park.

Action Images via Reuters

41/50 28 April 2018

People release balloons outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, following the death on Saturday morning of Alfie Evans, who was being treated at the hospital. The 23-month-old died at 2.30am, parents Kate James and Thomas Evans said on Facebook. The youngster was at the centre of a legal battle over his treatment that touched hearts around the world.

42/50 27 April 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, speaks with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, left, and Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, center, during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels. NATO held its last major meeting in its old headquarters, with talks focused on strained ties with Russia, a fresh peace effort in Afghanistan and a new training mission for Iraq.

43/50 26 April 2018

A protester wearing a mask depicting Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, flanked by two protesters wearing angry emoji masks protest outside Portcullis House in central London. Facebook’s CTO Mike Schroepfer appeared infront of British Members of Parliament on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the wake of allegations that information on millions of its users was misused.

44/50 25 April 2018

Members of the military work in the Maltings shopping area, close to the bench where Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill seven weeks ago. The area around the bench where the couple collapsed is one of nine sites to be cleaned in an operation that is likely to take several months.

45/50 24 April 2018

A statue in honour of the first female Suffragette Millicent Fawcett is unveiled as Prime Minister Theresa May and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan look on during a ceremony in Parliament Square. The statue of womens suffrage leader Millicent Fawcett is the first monument of a woman and the first designed by a woman, Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing OBE, to take a place in parliament Square.

46/50 23 April 2018

Prince William arrives at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital with his children Prince George and Princess Charlotte after his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son.

47/50 22 April 2018

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line to win the men’s elite race at the London Marathon 2018.

48/50 21 April 2018

Team England Athletes during the Commonwealth Games Team England Parade in Victoria Square, Birmingham.

49/50 20 April 2018

Varun Chopra of Essex during the Specsavers County Championship Division One match between Essex and Lancashire at the Chelmsford County Cricket Ground. The game is being played in the warmest April temperatures in 70 years.

50/50 19 April 2018

A young boy cools off in the fountains in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.

She sounded so positive about Trump that Jim Pickard of the Financial Times asked her: “Do you think the US president is misunderstood, and do you think he will be remembered as one of the great US presidents of history?” 

I’m not saying she didn’t answer the question, but she didn’t answer the question: “When we look at the issues that we’re addressing with America, as a United Kingdom and in other different fora…”

Since the Second World War, this is what British prime ministers have done. May’s humiliation by Trump brings back memories of Gordon Brown chasing Barack Obama through the kitchens of the UN building in New York just so that he could say they had had a face-to-face meeting. 

She, like Brown, takes the view that such embarrassments just have to be borne because it is in the national interest for Britain to hug the Americans close. The exceptions are notable for their rarity in the context of an assumed “special” relationship. Harold Wilson refused to send troops to Vietnam – not even one symbolic piper – and Margaret Thatcher told Ronald Reagan off for invading Grenada, a Commonwealth country, without warning. 

Emmanuel Macron lashes out at Donald Trump in speech ahead of G7

On the British side, though, the US-UK relationship is where pragmatism and populism collide. For Tony Blair, the relationship was an “article of faith”, but his support for the US invasion of Iraq is the main reason he is so unpopular now. A lot of that is to do with the demerits of the invasion itself, but some of it is to do with the offence to British pride of subordination to American power. And he was never humiliated by George W Bush in the way that Trump is insulting May now. 

May is probably right, pragmatically, to want to minimise EU retaliation against Trump’s protectionist tariffs on steel and aluminium. All economic history teaches us that tit-for-tat tariffs are bad for everyone. 

But Blair’s unpopularity should be a warning of what happens to prime ministers – eventually – if they stand too close to a US Republican president.


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