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Trump may be leaving the White House, but his values live on in the UK

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17.01.2021

The writer Alistair Cooke once observed: “As always, the British especially shudder at the latest American vulgarity, and then they embrace it with enthusiasm two years later.” That is a kind way of saying that the British are always a few years behind the Americans, emulating them and then pretending that we came up with whatever it is we are mimicking ourselves, or with a uniquely British version of it.

For example, Britain’s allegedly evidence-based involvement in the Iraq war was largely – as President George W Bush wrote in an internal memo months before military action – a matter of it following the US’s lead. So much of the special relationship between the two countries hinges on this keeping up of appearances, where the British political classes – who like to maintain their nation the superior of the two, the original superpower – can admire and obey while holding on to the fiction that the UK is a more restrained country, less prone to the excesses of the other.

Margaret Thatcher, hit both of these notes, fawning over the US president, Ronald Reagan, when she said that they both “had almost identical beliefs” even though they were from “very different backgrounds”. And on her first visit to the White House, she said that the two countries were “inextricably entwined” because George Washington himself “was a British subject until well after his 40th birthday”.

But then Donald Trump became president and upset this taut balance of adulation and snootiness. He publicly flaunted the influence over Britain that had always been wielded in secret, humiliated Theresa........

© The Guardian


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