The hypocrisy of leading Brexiters has been fully exposed this week as Trump came and went in a swirl of fake news and confusion. I think it was the BBC’s Washington correspondent Jon Sopel who first asked the question ‘what will the Brexiters have to say about Trump’s comments on Brexit, given what they said about Obama’s pro-remain comments two years earlier?’ It’s a good question. At the time of Obama’s comment that the UK may be at the back of the queue for a US/UK trade deal, Jacob Ress-Mogg said “No true honest Briton is going to be told what to do by a Yankee president they’re just not. He can come and tell us all he likes about what we should do but we’re not an American colony and they’re not a colony of ours anymore. It’s so splendidly arrogant for him to think that poor little Blighty is just waiting for big old Uncle Sam to come and tell us what we should do with our European neighbours and which garden we should play in.”
Now of course Rees-Mogg says it’s OK for Trump to talk about a post-Brexit trade deal. Others have not been outraged at all at the US president commenting on UK politics in the way he did to the Sun’s political editor. It reminds me of when Blair was asked about John Prescott taking a swipe at a bloke who threw an egg at him: ‘That’s just John for you.’ So now, when a US president insults the UK prime minister – on the record – all he has to say is ‘that was fake news’ and we can all rest easy that we’re not going to become a vassal state.
The question that is now emerging – either after Trump’s visit or the government’s white paper – is whose vassal state do we want to be? We’ll have no influence on the EU and none with the US. Great result.