Theresa May answer on Donald Trump’s mental state is a symptom of her political weakness

No doubt Ms May was thinking of the President 'working visit' to this country next month, and had no wish to embarrass him or Britain at a tricky moment

Sunday 07 January 2018 19:23
No doubt Ms May was thinking of President Trump’s “working visit” to this country next month
No doubt Ms May was thinking of President Trump’s “working visit” to this country next month

Just as Theresa May was the first world leader to rush to meet Donald Trump after he took office, so now she is the first to confirm his sanity. It has come to this.

Asked by Andrew Marr in the ritual new year interview if she had doubts about the President’s mental state she simply answered “no”. It would have been interesting to hear her elaborate on that in pseudo-psychological fashion. It would be valuable to hear precisely what she made of his extraordinary personality, but she contented herself with some anodyne remarks about him being committed to taking decisions in the best interests of the United States, though some would dispute even that, seeing the pattern of his actions over the past two years or so primarily as the pursuit of his own interests and those of his immediate family above all else.

No doubt Ms May was thinking of President Trump’s “working visit” to this country next month, and had no wish to embarrass him or Britain at a tricky moment. No doubt also she was thinking of his propensity to tweet, and his likely reaction on waking to the news that the British Prime Minister might have questioned his mental state. (Assuming the White House takes much notice of what Ms May says in any event.)

There seems little doubt that for diplomatic reasons an invitation to Prince Harry’s wedding to an American national will be forthcoming, either with or without the same courtesy bring extended to former President Obama. It will turn the ceremonies in Windsor into quite a summer circus. We can only imagine the Trump Twitter feed live from St. George’s chapel. It will be difficult to avoid The Donald gatecrashing.

As in so much else, the Prime Minister is the victim of her own political weakness, which stems from her lack of judgement in calling her premature election, itself in part a consequence of the ill-fated Brexit referendum. The Prime Minister has, to be fair, sometimes stood up to Donald Trump, as when he criticised the UK after recent terror attacks, but it is difficult to believe that the desperate need for a trade deal with the US hasn’t influenced British policy towards the current administration.

A united strong European Union has more chance of challenging Mr Trump in issues such as the Paris climate accord, Jerusalem and indeed international free trade than Britain alone. It is worth reminding ourselves of that.

For now we may expect Ms May to earn some kudos for her positive psychiatric assessment of Donald Trump, and other presidents, chancellors and prime ministers will no doubt follow suit with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Maybe Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan will tell us what he thought when President Trump shook his hand so painfully, and Angela Merkel how she felt about being snubbed by Mr Trump. President Putin’s take would be fascinating too.

Ironically, though, the most graphic evidence that Mr Trump is indeed a childish narcissist with a minimal attention spam comes not from Michael Wolff book which prompted the question in the first place, but from his own public appearances, speeches, press conferences and tweets. We look forward to him meeting the British press and being interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, who might, just to be balanced, ask Mr Trump if Theresa May is really “all there”.

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