Every now and again a relatively small event comes along that nonetheless serves to illustrate something much bigger. This week’s visit to London by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo – the standard prelude to any state visit – was a classic of the genre.
When was the last time that a UK prime minister or foreign secretary looked entirely comfortable in the presence of his or her US opposite number, even on their home territory? Jeremy Hunt has been foreign secretary for nearly a year now, but you might take a moment to look at the picture on the Foreign Office website of his joint press conference with Pompeo. If this was the best our diplomatic PR people could do, imagine what the other stills must have been like.
On the right is Pompeo looking gruff, confident and slightly down his nose, even though Hunt is marginally taller. Hunt, meanwhile, looks uncertain, a bit apprehensive and a bit keen to please. The press conference itself was an agonising exercise in inequivalence and inequality. I don’t recall watching anything more like teenager and grown-up since David Miliband stood alongside secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
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