Scrap the Formalities, Here's What Trump Should Do in the UK
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Whatever your politics, you’ve gotta appreciate the absurdity of The Donald sharing tea with the Queen.
By Ned Colin and James Watkins
The U.K. has had a chaotic week — from England qualifying for the World Cup semifinals, to the potential collapse of Theresa May’s government following two high-profile resignations, to the poisoning of two citizens with an apparent Russian nerve agent (one has died; another is in critical condition), and all amid a blistering heat wave. To add to the madness, another frantic media storm is about to touch down on British soil: President Donald Trump.
Let’s face it, there is no scenario in which Trump’s four-day jolly in the U.K. is going to go well for him or Theresa May as currently planned. May is facing the biggest political crisis and threat to her premiership since taking office in 2016, so this week can only be about “damage control,” says Dr. Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the U.S. and the Americas program at Chatham House. The inevitable blowback of today’s NATO summit also overshadows the trip (remember what happened in the 24 hours after the G-7 summit?). Meanwhile, atop Trump’s wish list is a positive welcome and good PR, says Vinjamuri, but he’s going to be met with 50,000-plus protesters in central London, armed with a giant blow-up balloon of the president as a baby, complete with a diaper and tiny hands, flying high over the capital.
Currently, the all-important itinerary — which notably skips central London haunts like Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street — includes dinner and bilateral meetings between Trump and May, who will also watch a demonstration of the U.K.’s military capabilities together — no doubt the PM’s way of saying, “See, I told you we invest in killing people too, Donald. Please don’t pull your NATO funding.” The president is set to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle on Friday evening before escaping to Scotland for a weekend, one presumes, of golf. The best-case scenario from this awkward rendezvous? That May pulls some Love Actually–style stunt to eloquently give the president a proper British dressing-down — God knows she could use the public-opinion boost that it gave Hugh Grant’s character.
So, Mr. President, let’s scrap the pretense of diplomacy — it’s not your strong suit — and treat this visit like the blatant PR exercise it really is. To that end, here are OZY’s recommendations for the perfect U.K. trip:
Thursday: Get Your Sport On
For starters, let’s cancel all the meetings with the prime minister — she has enough on her plate this week. Instead, head to the Royal Box at Wimbledon for a photo op with other celebs in the sun to top off your tan. Afterward, visit a local pub to meet some England
soccer football fans, preferably posing for a video in which you declare “It’s coming home.” Don’t ask why, just trust me: That video would go viral, and people in England would instantly forgive all prior sins. They might even call off the protests.
DISCLAIMER: At the time of publication, we are still 14 hours away from kick-off in the England–Croatia World Cup semifinal. While the author is confident that football is indeed coming home, there is a small chance that England will no longer be in the World Cup at the time of your visit. If so, do this anyway, because it’d still be great.
Friday: Tourist Time
While we’re at it, let’s scrap the meeting with Queenie too. Her Royal Highness is the master of throwing shade with just a sour glance, so the photo op won’t end well for either of you. Besides, Prince Philip has retired from official duties, so there won’t even be anyone to make you look better by saying something even more inappropriate than you. Instead, hit up Stonehenge for a few tourist snaps, before heading just down the road to Salisbury and Amesbury, the sites of the two recent poisonings using Russian-made nerve agent Novichok for a bit of important foreign policy work. While there, a “NO EVIDENCE of collusion … TOTAL WITCH HUNT #fakenews #novichok” tweet could do just the trick in setting an ideal tone for next week’s meeting with Vladimir Putin.
Saturday: Road Trip!
Now it’s time to head north. But there’s no need to fly — instead, we encourage you to take the scenic route by bus to get the full experience of the majestic English countryside. In fact, we’ve got just the vehicle for you: the (in)famous Brexit Bus, which, with just a lick of paint could remind the Brexit-backing British heartlands that your cause and theirs are not so different. We suggest the following wording: “We send NATO $13 billion a week. Let’s fund THE WALL instead.” Once you reach the border with Scotland, stop off at Hadrian’s Wall for a fact-finding mission about how to enforce effective border control.
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Sunday: Bonnie Scotland
OK, this was the one part of the trip that you got right already: Golfing at one of your resorts (or, heck, both of them) in your motherland of Scotland to relax after a busy few days. Perhaps share a round with recently resigned U.K. foreign secretary (and potential future prime minister) Boris Johnson. After all, it would be silly not to hedge your bets on May’s replacement. Johnson’s outspoken personality, TV-honed celebrity, history of racist remarks and sex scandals, and ridiculous blond hairdo make you and him ideal partners over 18 holes.
Indeed, it seems you’ve already thought of this too:
Nevermind that the experts disagree — “It would be disturbing and would show very poor judgment” for the U.S. president to meet with Boris Johnson in light of recent political developments in the U.K., says Vinjamuri, “but this president does things according to his own playbook.”
That’s for sure. Time will tell just how far off-piste Trump will veer this week, especially if the NATO summit and the image of his baby self in blimp form leave him sufficiently piste-off come Thursday.