With Donald Trump gone, Brexit Britain will be very lonely on the world stage

The UK’s imperial delusions will not go down so well in a White House led by people with roots in Ireland, India and Jamaica

After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, an American friend compared the nativist populism of the United States with the state of Brexit Britain. “You think it’s bad that Britain voted to leave the EU”, –  he told. – “America has voted to leave itself.”

Four years later, things look a little different. Having indeed taken leave of its senses, America has now been rescued – not for the first time – by its citizens of colour. Polling data shows that without minority-ethnic voters, many of whom had to overcome deliberate and systemic attempts to suppress their participation – the nation’s constitutional and political integrity would have endured a further four years of Trump’s wrecking ball.

Under cover of the past four years of regression, the British government has been running riot. However badly our leaders behaved, though, they knew there was a larger, more powerful democracy behaving even worse. Conservative attacks on the independence of the judiciary, for example, may represent an unprecedented assault on our constitution. But for Trump, lashing out personally at individual judges on Twitter became routine.

The British government’s relaxed attitude about violating international law has prompted the condemnation of nearly all living former prime ministers. But Trump led the way in tearing up international agreements and withdrawing from multilateral organisations.

And then there is race. In Britain we have had to endure an equalities minister who suggests anti-racism reading materials are illegal in school, a foreign minister who derided Black Lives Matter as a Game of Thrones spoof, and Boris Johnson himself, as ready to insult black children in Africa as he was the black president in the White House. Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris is said to “hate” Johnson for claiming Obama held a grudge against Britain because of his “part-Kenyan” heritage. The prime minister’s comments have not aged well.

The Kenya reference was not accidental. Much of Johnson’s political strategy rests on foundations of imperial pride and colonial nostalgia. That was compatible with the “special relationship” when the American president was, like him, similarly smitten by an imagined great white past. Lamenting the decline of this relationship has become a national pastime in Britain – traditionally at just such moments as this, when a change of guard in the White House threatens the status quo. What is clear is that, insofar as the special relationship does exist, it’s rooted in “shared cultural values”. This phrase, whenever deployed by Britain, is almost always code for: “We colonised you once, and how well you’ve done from it.”

The Guardian 


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