Donald Trump

Resisting Trumpism in the UK

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump: just how easy is this UK-US marriage going to be, one has to wonder?

Riling up the majority of the country in his latest conference, the Prime Minister insulted the public as “juvenile anti-Americans”, jeering that critics of an alliance with American should “grow up and get a grip.”

This is the rhetoric our Prime Minister chooses to use when being held accountable for negotiating potential trading agreements now Britain is out of the European Union. Not used to being questioned and not a particular fan of it, Johnson dismisses valid concerns about Trump’s unstable politics knocking on the door of no.10 as our only friend.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s mask slipped long ago. The UK Prime Minister has a moral responsibility to stand tall and refuse to bow to Trump’s demands. [Image: William Moon/PoliticusUSA].

This is not the first time Johnson has put Trump’s America before the UK: in 2017 he labelled London Mayor Sadiq Khan a “pompous popinjay” without considering that the President of the United States of America was taking to twitter to insult Khan, accusing him of being “nasty” and a “stone-cold loser.”

Khan may be a Labour MP, but that Johnson would rather side with Trump than stand in solidarity with British colleagues shows where his allegiances lie

It beggars belief that a man in arguably the highest political office in the world has spent considerable efforts in baiting a British MP, from challenging Khan to an IQ test to fabricating quotes from Khan in the wake of terror attacks in London in 2017. David Lammy MP said at the time of the consistent insults: “[Trump] hates that London chose a Muslim mayor. The President is racist.”

Khan may be a Labour MP, but that Johnson would rather side with Trump than stand in solidarity with British colleagues shows where his allegiances lie.

David Lammy
Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy took to Twitter to defend Khan from the US President. [Image: Twitter, @DavidLammy]

The hypocrisy of being labelled as naïve and juvenile by a man who appears to believe the UK deserves, and can get, a trade deal with the EU despite axing free movement – one of the EU’s most fundamental successes – would be amusing if it were not dangerous. As Johnson and his peers slash at the ribbons of friendship and support from Europe, Trump waits in the shadows, ready to pounce.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn recently highlighted the real risks our National Health Service faces in a deal with American while Trump has been open about his desire to take an institution that defines us as a country and crush it for profit. Trump now seems to forget that he publicly aired this desire in the summer of 2019.

Yougov
YouGov data suggests the UK isn’t particularly convinced the UK and US have a ‘special’ relationship. [Image: YouGov].

YouGov’s most recent data, published January 2020, shows a dismal result for the man who is desperate to be adored: only 19 per cent of Britons have a “positive opinion” of Trump, with 67 per cent of participants reporting they have a “negative opinion” of the American President. Yet, our Prime Minister labels that as “juvenile”. Can we be surprised when Johnson shows us his distaste for us? Britain delivered him and the Conservatives a sizeable majority in December’s election. Combine such a victory with Johnson’s unfathomable privilege; it is predictable his confidence bleeds into arrogance.

As Johnson and his peers slash at the ribbons of friendship and support from Europe, Trump waits in the shadows, ready to pounce.

The reality of Donald Trump’s politics must be addressed. It is not a matter of neutrality: the Prime Minister is swooning over a potential UK-US trade in a way that is not just about politics but also about culture. Trump is the first and only American President to attend the annual March for Life event, an event that campaigns to strip women of their human rights and bodily autonomy by demanding stricter controls on abortion. In the UK, the BPAS’s campaign Back Off brings awareness to the depressing rise in anti-abortion activity here. By simply accepting Trump without question, the Prime Minister asks the UK to abandon human rights because that is what Trumpian politics do.

Abortion protests
Anti-abortion protests are sadly on the rise in the UK, prompting a backlash from pro-choice feminist campaigners. [Image: Guy Corbishley/Alamy/The Times.]

The Trump issue is about tribalism, whether one votes Labour or Conservative. Even the most loyal of Conservative voters would surely wince at Trump’s dehumanising treatment of women, the aggressive treatment of refugees and the religious fundamentalism.

Current America is a deeply wounded and dangerous country, colonised and pillaged by white Europeans – including the British colonialists – with the racist abuse against Indigenous communities still happening today.

By simply accepting Trump without question, the Prime Minister asks the UK to abandon human rights because that is what Trumpian politics do

At its best, America is inspirational, with stunning and vibrant states, a wealth of diversity and incredible success in terms of advancements in research. Yet as populism surges, men like Trump and Johnson take their place on the thrones of America, The United Kingdom, Brazil and so forth. It is not a coincidence these men seek to oppress anyone they fear, which encompasses those who demand their rights, their voices and their democracy.

Only last week, Johnson attempted to ban reporters from certain publications, clearly unable to tolerate any less than favourable reports, a tactic that saw many prominent journalists leave the conference in solidarity with their banned peers. It was criticised as a Trumpism move by Labour.

Is a UK-US ‘close relationship’ necessary? [Image: Getty Images/The Telegraph].

America and the United Kingdom has, undoubtedly, a complex – and perhaps, special – relationship. However, labelling a relationship as “special” without scrutinising the power dynamics within that relationship leaves vulnerabilities exposed. We would be concerned if someone we cared about appeared to be in a relationship in which their partner was domineering, controlling and behaved in cruel ways towards others. Why is it any different when the relationship is political?

Even the most loyal of Conservative voters would surely wince at Trump’s dehumanising treatment of women, the aggressive treatment of refugees and the religious fundamentalism

Critical thinking is an essential skill, particularly in academia, which is potentially why Conservatives like to scoff at experts who rarely agree with them. Boris Johnson would have you believe to be critical means to critique foolishly and recklessly. The reality is that he wants little resistance to his Government’s policies, actions and behaviours, and wants blind obedience instead.

But we must resist this at every turn. Criticism is important as it paves the way for progress, but apparently, it is not a tool for the proletariat. Men like Trump and Johnson will call us childish, naïve, “nasty” stone-cold losers. We owe it to the miners and unionists before us and to the children who will grow up after us to not be silenced.

You can support the Back Off campaign in various ways here.

Written by
Xan Youles
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