Until about half past one in the morning on 9 November, nobody seriously thought that Donald Trump would become the 45th president of the United States of America. He has no political experience, and as such is something of an unknown quantity. Certainly, the team in 10 Downing Street do not have close links with the Trump organisation or the man himself.
Given how crucial it is for Theresa May to establish links with America’s next president, the government is going to have to push hard to establish better contacts with the next leader of the free world. Britain needs to maintain and strengthen the special relationship, particularly given our need to forge a post-Brexit trade deal. European security, too, is under threat from Russian expansionism, and Downing Street must now work to persuade the incoming President of the benefits of upholding NATO.
Who is there to try and forge a bridge with Donald Trump?
The Conservative Party has a couple of MPs who have spoken more warmly than most about Trump, men who might carry an olive branch to Trump Tower. Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith have both previously said they wouldn’t back Hillary Clinton, with Rees-Mogg adding that he would “almost certainly vote for Trump if I was American”. In addition, the secretary of state for International Trade Liam Fox is one of the members of the party who maintains strong links with the American right, mostly through connections with his now-dissolved research and lobbying organisation The Atlantic Bridge. Some or all of these men could be called upon to help to establish a dialogue with the next US president. Theresa May herself will be grateful that she wished both candidates luck before the vote, and didn’t make the mistake of criticising Donald Trump.
Beyond the Conservative Party, the man best placed to help Britain to form a strong relationship with Trump’s White House is Nigel Farage. He has already spent time with Donald Trump and opened for him at political rallies, and he is the first British politician to meet him since he won the election.
Trump and Farage bonded while Farage provided political advice that led Trump to describe himself on social media as “Mr Brexit”. If he can have his arm twisted into serving his country, Nigel Farage might make a useful ally to the Conservative government when it comes to making introductions and conducting business.
If none of those men can be persuaded to help then – as funny as it sounds – former Ukip leadership candidate Raheem Kassam or even Piers Morgan could provide some insight into Trump’s approach, and help smooth relations. Both men have spoken warmly about Trump and at least in Morgan’s case the friendship is reciprocated. It may sound incredible that such characters are among Britain’s best bets for the task of keeping the special relationship alive, but these are uncharted waters, and Donald Trump is no ordinary politician. If he’s going to be as unorthodox as president as he was as a candidate, then we shouldn’t be squeamish about thinking outside the box.
Theresa May should invite Trump to visit Britain and treat him to as luxurious a welcome as we can afford. Post-Brexit, we need our greatest ally more than ever, and if that means employing the services of a few eccentrics, then that may be the price we have to pay. Handled skillfully, the relationship between May and Trump could grow as close as that between previous prime ministers and US presidents. Donald Trump may be an amateur, but he is also capable of being moulded. After this surprise victory, a friendly hand of guidance may be exactly what he needs. It isn’t just the UK that needs America’s continued friendship, the world may be grateful that Trump listens to some international friends outside of Moscow.