When Donald Trump won the American election in 2016, I warned his European admirers that they should not expect favors from him. Trump may be a kindred spirit, but his zero-sum view of the world was never going to benefit anyone else.
The sorry tale of the British ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, is a case in point.
In diplomatic cables leaked to the Daily Mail, Darroch describes the American president as “insecure” and “incompetent” and counsels his government against expecting Trump’s “to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”
Trump responded to form, first patronizing Prime Minister Theresa May for not taking his advice on Brexit, then effectively demanding Darroch’s resignation. “We will no longer deal with him,” Trump wrote.
Darroch quit earlier today.
Leaping to Trump’s defense
Back in 2016, Trump said he hoped Brexit leader Nigel Farage might be appointed ambassador to the United States. May refused.
Farage is now angling for the same position again and trashing the civil service for good measure, claiming they are “not politically neutral”. (You would be hard pressed to find a civil service anywhere in the world that tries harder than Britain’s to stay out of politics.)
Other rightwingers, from television presenter Piers Morgan to the Brexit editor of The Telegraph, Asa Bennett, have leaped to Trump’s defense.
May’s likely successor, Boris Johnson, stopped short of justifying Trump’s outburst on Tuesday, but wouldn’t back Darroch either. According to The Guardian, this factored into Darroch’s decision to resign.
Johnson seems content to be Trump’s satrap. If other Conservatives, who otherwise obsesses about surrendering “sovereignty” to the EU, are uncomfortable with taking orders from Washington, they are not telling us.
Alex Massie, who I also quoted in my 2016 story, is once again a voice of reason, calling Darroch’s assessment of Trump entirely unsurprising:
Suggesting Trump’s White House is chaotic and inept and all kinds of dysfunctional hardly counts as news. Everyone knows this because everyone can see it.
Massie believes the British right’s subservience to Trump is a symptom of self-hatred. They will be the first to disparage anyone else’s patriotism, but it are the partisans of Brexit who despise modern Britain. They long for the time when Britain was great and mostly white, no matter the contradiction between their desire for a “Global Britain” and one that keeps out Eastern Europeans and Turks.
But if Britain was still great, it wouldn’t need to suck up to a bully like Trump.