Why Trump’s Fixation on Friendships With World Leaders Could Backfire

Why Trump’s Fixation on Friendships With World Leaders Could Backfire
U.S. President Donald Trump reaches out to shake hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May during the U.N. General Assembly, New York, Sept. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

When U.S President Donald Trump announced that he was canceling his trip to the United Kingdom, the public explanation was his disinterest in presiding over the opening of the mammoth new American Embassy, one of the ceremonial events planned for the visit. But it could also be seen as an unexpected gesture of consideration for British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had extended the official invitation from the queen to visit before a series of awkward incidents in the bilateral relationship.

Ever since the two leaders held hands outside the Oval Office barely a week after Trump’s inauguration a year ago, the British elite and public have developed an allergy to the American president. Large public protests were expected during his visit, raising anxieties for his British hosts about security, as well as the political downsides of pretending that the much-vaunted “special relationship” was still in jolly good shape.

After the trip was called off, the British press described the relief of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has clashed with Trump on Twitter over the president’s tone-deaf remarks following several terrorist attacks in London. On learning of the cancellation, Khan said that it was good that Trump “got the message” and had the sense to stay home.

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