(CNN)Britain and America, it is often said, are two nations divided by a common language. Ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May’s presser with President Donald Trump on Friday — the first for Trump having a foreign head of government — that capability for near miss communicating was entirely on display.
Right from the beginning, in fact — the traveling British press corps was briefly refused access
after some confusion over qualifications as well as using the dd mm-yy birthdate structure (something used not only in Britain, but much of the world).
But that isn’t the single pressure point for the British Prime Minister in Washington. Through the recent EU referendum, critics of the European Union assured by looking to America as an important partner, British voters they might expect to get an improved trade deal.
Then-President Barack Obama caused some bitterness here by declaring Britain would be at “the back of the queue
” for deals should it leave the EU, and some viewed Trump’s looking love affair with all matters Brexit as a possible opening. So there was consternation in Britain following Trump’s inaugural address, which appeared to herald a fresh age of protectionism and commerce tariffs. (“Two simple rules: purchase American and hire American.”
Thus May confronted national pressure to supply on two things: An American promise to refrain from torture — yet broadly defined — as well as the assurance of an important US-UK trade deal exempted from Trump’s protectionist rhetoric.
She made some headway, at least judging from some careful parsing of President Trump’s noncommittal language. Trump guaranteed to demur to Defense Secretary James Mattis, a waterboarding skeptic
, on the subject of torture, while both leaders spoke of a start commerce discussions when you possibly can.
While sharing a podium with all the mercurial new President moreover, May prevented any major plays. (Inconvenient pictures of Trump getting her hand in a walk through the White House colonnades reach front pages, but will likely just
be classed as a fortunate escape).
However, some in Britain WOn’t forgive May for her haste to meet with the new President. Plus it is a fact that her look beside Donald Trump, in the White House Palm Room, did appear to help “normalize” him as a valid international leader. Trump’s critics will be disappointed the political insurgent prevented any of his characteristic outbursts, which might assure other world leaders concerned about sharing a podium
The President’s selection, hours after she left
the White House, to control the entrance of Muslims to the US — including Muslim refugees from Syria — will instantly tarnish May’s claims to have tempted him into the diplomatic mainstream, at least with liberal British audiences. But May was also unafraid to school Trump facing GOP
leaders Thursday night, invoking Ronald Reagan
when warning him to keep clear of Russia
Reagan is a tough power to get a Republican president to dismiss, particularly when invoked with a Tory Prime Minister that is female. Liberal British commentators would have favored May to get in touch with Democrats — Britain’s camaraderie, she might have included, extends to all American citizens rather than only those who voted for Trump. But having a public back home truly fearful of short temper and Mr Trump’s trigger finger, flattering UK factory outlets praised even him as the greatest means to maintain British citizens safer.
The sole distressing minute for May arrived in the White House during her first appearance. Within an frosty picture call, a bust of Winston Churchill, which the President can be said to have moved back to the Oval Office in the request of Mrs May’s UKIP adversary, Nigel Farage photographed both leaders.
Farage is a mostly discredited figure in Britain — exiled in the official Brexit campaign, that has been run by figures that are more mainstream. But he’s made much of his camaraderie together with the newest US President. The alleged disrespect shown by President Obama to Churchill has been one of his favourite strategies to drum up injured British pride among nationalists. (In reality, Obama’s “snub” has been revealed to be mostly a mistake
Needless to say, few Americans will totally understand the indignity of being immobilized in a photo shoot that emphasizes a Farage diplomatic success for May. But she’s improbable anyhow to stress too much. Obama may not have been the favourite president of Britain, but his approval ratings far outstrip those of Trump.
Thus, while Farage might have won the race that is early to be President Trump’s finest pal that is British, May understands full well the British people expect her to be a cautious partner, not a pal that is pandering.
Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/opinions/two-issues-topped-may-agenda-in-trump-meeting-maltby/index.html