For all the build-up of President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK, especially by the British media, the whole trip turned out to be really rather a damp squib.
The highlight of the 45th President of the United States of America’s trip to the UK was by some distance, the D-Day Anniversary events in Portsmouth, attended by European leaders and of course, the Queen.
The tone of the state visit, which is supposed to be an occasion of celebration and to develop inter-country relations, was set very early on by and large through the media.
Print, digital and broadcast media all decided to focus on anti-Trump rhetoric, and planned protests in London against his visit. This undoubtedly set the mood for the occasion, and arguably stirred up even more anti-Trump rhetoric.
The press were clearly waiting for a slip-up by the President, a ‘Trump Gaffe’ and they believe they got one. During a joint press conference with Theresa May at the Foreign Office, Trump was asked a question about post-brexit trade talks between the UK and the US, specifically whether the NHS would be part of them.
The question posed about whether the NHS would be part of trade talks was not initially correctly heard by Trump, and Theresa May had to repeat it – and explain it – to him. It was evident that Trump still didn’t fully understand the question by the nature of his response.
He said; “When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table”.
This has been taken by the media – including the BBC – and political commentators as meaning the WHOLE of the NHS is on the table, which of course it isn’t. Trading with the NHS is, as is the trade in pharmaceuticals – a trade that is already something that is subject to intra-country arrangements, and something that is currently handled on the UK’s behalf by the EU.
And so cue the backlash, the following morning when the President clarified his position in an interview with Piers Morgan, stating that, indeed the NHS itself as an institution isn’t on the table. Well that is exactly the case. Except the media portray that as the President back-tracking, back-pedalling, doing a u-turn, name it what you will, but none of those are correct.
So, regardless of the media feeding frenzy on that individual non-point, the state visit went as planned. The pomp and pageantry that is expected from such a national event was evident, and the £1,400 per bottle wine was dusted off for the guests of Her Majesty at the state banquet.
Snubs by the Labour Party to Trump’s visit? Well don’t get me started on that!