By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
The three-day state visit from June 3 to June 5 of US President Donald Trump to the UK was an undoubtedly ill-timed political move. The visit has taken places just four days ahead of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to demit her office on June 7, as a result of her unsuccessful attempt for Brexit three previous times, with a new deadline set for October 31.
Trump, who has taken with him a trade delegation, seemed to be in hurry to congratulate May for her initiating the Brexit, and influence the prospective Prime Ministerial candidates to ensure Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) and sign a new trade deal with the US.
The US President, who has been working on new trade and tariffs with Russia and China, as well as upward revision of existing trade arrangements with India and some other countries, is eager to push through his new lucrative trade agreement with the UK.
Though he has been accorded a warm welcome in the form of a grand guard of honor and a state banquet by Queen Elizabeth and an official honor by the Prime Minister on the first day, the second day events did not reflect the same sentiments as the President had to face a show of demonstration led by Left-wing groups. He found it appropriate to vent his anger at a joint press conference addressed by him, and the Prime Minister, and the economic meeting at St. James’s Palace. The economic meeting, which has brought together 10 leading companies — five each from the US and the UK — has been a damp squib. Some of the criticisms Trump has made during the joint press conference has reflected as his undue interference in the internal matters of the UK.
The third day of Trump visit has been totally devoted to commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day landings, honoring the men and women who participated in what is still the largest naval, air and land operation in history.
Addressing the joint press conference with May on June 4, Trump has described the public demonstration orchestrated by Jeremy Corbyn, a Labor Party leader and veteran Left-wing activist, as very small. Trump said: “Jeremy is a negative force. I do not like who criticize. I like the people who get things done. It is a small group. It’s a fake news.”
Trump has revealed that he had turned down a request from Jeremy Corbyn to meet, as the Labor leader joined a protest against his state visit and declined to attend a dinner hosted by the Queen.
Explaining the new trade deal that he would like to initiate with the UK, he has said that if UK wants a comprehensive trade deal with the US, it has to drop and break with the European Union.
Some observers feel that Trump has seemingly visited the UK to endorse Boris Johnson as the country’s next Prime Minister and influence lawmakers to ratify the Brexit paving a way for the US to promote its trade with the UK.
Trump has not spared lashing out at London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Trump called him a “stone cold loser” after the Mayor criticized the UK government for inviting the US President for a state visit. Trump has said: “He is a negative force. Not a very good man. I understand. He has done a poor job. Crime is up. He is criticizing a representative of the US, who has done so much for the UK. He should be positive, not negative. He is a negative force. He hurts the people of the great country. He should actually focus on his job.”
The Queen, who has taken Trump on a guided tour of Buckingham Palace, and hosted a grand state dinner there, made a veiled comment. She has used her toast to emphasize the importance of international institutions created by Britain, the United States and other allies after World War II, with a subtle rebuttal to Trump, a critic of NATO and the UN.
Trump has concluded his state visit to the UK by traveling to Portsmouth, the launch point for the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France 75 years ago.
In the commemorative event, the US President has joined 15 world leaders and about 300 veterans.
As a mark of respect to the soldiers, Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to the resilience of her generation who fought the war.
Though his mission remains unaccomplished, a seemingly satisfied Trump has said he has been warmly welcomed in Britain and hopes that his new trade deal with the UK would be realized soon. He has traveled to Ireland to meet Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and spend time at his golf resort.
Visiting on a state visit to the UK when the country has been in search of a Prime Minister consequent on thrice failed Brexit, and making some uncalled-for comments on its leaders, Trump has done more harm than good to his already sinking domestic and international image.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao