The ‘Trump Thing’ could jeopardise the UK’s special relationship with the US
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BONNIE GREER says a new era has begun, as Brexit Britain is born into a presidential shakedown
A week into Brexit, the UK faces some big dilemmas: Huawei and US opposition to it; and a US/UK trade deal, and who ultimately shapes and controls the agreement that Trump dangles before Boris Johnson.
One of the things about having been born and raised in Chicago is that the Mafia, the Mob, the Outfit, the Guys are kind of baked into your DNA. Not that you have to actually know any. It's just that you know the marks, the signs, the language. The stance.
I can sometimes spot a Chicagoan of a certain age because of their reluctance to sit with their back to the window in a restaurant. This may seem odd, but when you grow up with memories and even newspaper photos of 'rub-outs' in restaurants, it never really goes away. The newspapers in Chicago never showed them in my time, but you could see them in New York papers, if you went there.
My last gangster rub-out pic was some time in the 1980s in New York when some mook got plugged in a restaurant, his cigar still in his mouth as he lay dead on the floor, sprawled amidst plates. It horrified my friends but it seemed like all in a day's work to me, coming from Chicago.
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So the 45th president of the United States looks very familiar to me. Donald Trump even wears a kind of gangster overcoat as he strides back and forth across the White House lawn. In lieu of actual press briefings from the press secretary - a government official paid for by the US taxpayer - Trump does what journos call "chopper talk".
Marine One, his helicopter, is usually in the background as he freelances his replies to yelling reporters on the fringes. It works because Trump is a performer, an actor, a shill and salesman. He looks at the world primarily as a set of 'marks': people to be exploited and used.
The news that his secretary of state Mike Pompeo, on a recent visit to Ukraine, continued to dangle the prospect of a visit to Washington for the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without committing to any timescale is just the latest example of Trump's international manipulation. His Mob stance.
This is all part of the 'Trump thing', with its air of unpredictability, of urging the world to wait for 'coming attractions', as in the Senate show trial otherwise known as the impeachment process.
Meanwhile there is the little matter of Britain, bounding optimistically out of the EU and into the future. The Special Relationship, forged during the war because the UK needed it, has been trotted out again.
Pompeo has stated that the UK "will be in front of the line", yet another broadside against Barack Obama, who lives rent-free inside Trump's head. Next to Joe Biden.
Now to Huawei. Trump wants to squeeze China, take it away from being almost the world's top economy. This is no secret and the billions in 'farmers' aid' that he has given his favourite region - the Upper Midwest - attest to the effect of the trade war between the two global superpowers.
Pompeo has urged the UK to reconsider allowing the Chinese tech giant to be a constituent of its 5G system. He said he hoped that the UK had a chance to "relook" at the decision. He stressed that the US needed to be sure that its allies had trusted information.
A threat has been issued - in a tweet from Lindsay Graham, the Republican senator and Trump stooge - that "this decision has the potential to jeopardise US-UK intelligence sharing agreements and could greatly complicate a US-UK free trade agreement".
Brexit Britain is born with a possible presidential shakedown. The new era begins.
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