Boris Johnson just met with a white supremacist and Trump’s son-in-law. This is not normal.

The UK government needs to find its backbone


Boris Johnson is in New York for a few days, holding the UK government’s first talks with Donald Trump’s team. Officials say that the foreign secretary held ‘positive but frank’ talks with key advisers, led by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.

Let’s rephrase that:

In the last few hours, the country’s chief diplomat has — in his official capacity — held talks with a far-right white nationalist and a member of the president-elect’s family, who has yet to separate his business interests from his role as a presidential adviser.

This is not normal, and we must not allow it to become so.

Yesterday, Theresa May said that the UK’s relationship with the US was ‘based on shared values’ and claimed that ‘in the UK, we feel we can say to the US if we disagree with something that they are doing.’

Surely, then, the government is in a position to object to meeting with Bannon, widely considered to be a fake news-touting fascist? Surely it’s in a position to point out that shameless nepotism is not one of the ‘shared values’ that underpin the special relationship?

As a liberal democratic world power, the UK has a responsibility to call out team Trump’s incredible abuses. Instead, the government has chosen appeasement, clamouring for whatever puny favours the president-elect is willing to bestow.

At the outset of his presidency, foreign leaders must make it clear to Trump that he cannot bully them into submission, nor expect them to overlook his flagrant ethics violations.

May is scheduled to meet Trump in March. Hopefully by then her government will have found its spine.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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