U.S. President Donald Trump paid a three-day state visit to the United Kingdom from June 3 to 5.
We knew that it was going to be a controversial visit. However, it was beyond everybody’s expectation that the visit turned out to be a farce filled with verbal abuse from the very beginning. Even before his Air Force One touched down at London Stansted Airport, President Trump launched a verbal attack on the city’s Mayor Sadiq Khan through his Twitter account. “Sadiq Khan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly nasty to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me,” the U.S. president tweeted angrily.
Apparently not yet satisfied with the abusive words, President Trump continued to say that Khan reminded him very much of the “dumb and incompetent” Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio, who “had also done a terrible job.” The outspoken president further mocked Khan, saying that he is only half the height of de Blasio. “He is the twin of de Blasio except shorter,” Trump said.
Etiquette is very important for international diplomatic occasions. It was the first time for me to hear that a visiting president verbally and even personally attacked the mayor of the host city, much less the mayor of the largest city of his own country. Such abnormal behavior also showed that Trump was really angry with the London mayor. Just one day before Trump’s arrival in Britain, Khan published an article in The Observer newspaper saying that Britain should not roll out the red carpet for someone whose divisive behavior flies in the face of the ideals the United States was founded upon: equality, liberty and religious freedom. The London mayor even compared President Trump to “20th-century fascists.”
Khan is not the only British person to challenge the U.S president. Thousands of protesters shouted slogans and called the U.S. leader the most powerful bully in the world. They followed Trump no matter where he went. Many U.K. politicians were also as unhappy as Khan that the country was hosting the controversial U.S. leader. If Trump carefully read the front page headlines of British newspapers during his stay in the country, I am sure he would be even more furious. For example, The Independent featured its frontpage with a photo showing a giant Trump Baby projection lighting up the White Cliffs of Dover ahead of his state visit.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s relationship with the British royal family is also very sensitive. Prince Harry’s wife, U.S. citizen Meghan Markle, didn’t meet with the president this time. In an interview with a U.S. television station in 2016, Meghan described Trump as “misogynistic.” The U.S. president also had very low opinion of the Duchess of Sussex. “I didn’t know that she was nasty,” Trump said before his latest visit to the U.K.
Moreover, President Trump has been a persistent critic of British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit policy. He several times advised Britain to leave the European Union without a deal and without paying any separation fee. Before Trump’s arrival, 250 British scientists sent May a signed letter, pleading with her to robustly challenge President Trump about his inaction on international climate change. To answer the call from the academic circle, May brought up the issue of climate change when she met with Trump. As we all know, Trump’s visit to Britain coincided with May’s last week as leader of the governing Conservative Party. If May can successfully persuade Trump to change his stubborn attitude on climate change, it would surely be an invaluable legacy for her.
Just like Trump said, the United States is by far the most special and the most important ally of the United Kingdom. However, his state visit to the special and important ally this time will surely bring him complicated and controversial feelings.
(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)