Last Thursday Theresa May made a speech in Philadelphia at some sort of Republican conference, and got a standing ovation. That was a bit of a surprise: she doesn’t usually get standing ovations. So I watched the speech:
Various things stood out for me:
- she mentioned climate change (25:50).
- she mentioned ‘our friends in Europe’ and hoped for the success of the EU.
- she spoke up for NATO and for international organisations like the UN.
- she mentioned ‘globalisation’.
- she warned about Putin and Russia.
- she mentioned Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the USA (too often, I thought).
To me it all added up to her being a middle-of-the-road British (or European or American) politician who believes most of the things that most right-thinking politicians believe, and have believed for the past 30 or 40 years. And that was precisely why she got a standing ovation from all the right-thinking Republicans at the convention.
The next day she met Donald Trump, and as far as I know:
- He doesn’t believe in climate change / global warming.
- He has a very low opinion of the bureaucratic, socialist EU.
- He thinks NATO is outdated.
- He’s not a globalist: he’s a believer in sovereign nation states.
- He admires Putin for sticking up for his own country, Russia.
So, the day before she met him, it seemed to me that she very loudly told the world that she didn’t agree with him about all those things. No doubt Trump got the message. And perhaps that’s why this looked like rather uncomfortable hand-holding the next day:
Trump is a maverick, and Theresa May isn’t. If it had been her choice, Britain would have remained in the EU. She’s accepted Brexit, but rather half-heartedly – while he welcomed it wholeheartedly.
Her mention of climate change also told me that she believes all the experts, about everything. But Donald Trump doesn’t. He won his election campaign by ignoring all the experts and all the pundits.
There’s a maverick in the White House. But there isn’t one in Downing Street. In fact there are hardly any anywhere in the world. I think it’s going to be a rather uncomfortable relationship, both for Britain and the rest of the world, with the new maverick in the White House