Theresa May has finally taken a spanner to the stabilising wheels of her premiership, graduating from a tricycle to a fully- fledged two-wheeler. At present it is a bodged garage job; stable but lacking fine-tuning and a lack of gears. However, the basics are there and if her tool box continues to grow in light of the complexity of dealing with President Trump, who is to say it might not one day resemble a Raleigh. Other bike brands are available.
The political circumstance that has crystallised the need for her to take control of the handlebars of her political destiny, is debate over President Trump’s executive order banning the entry of people from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. Protesters have been hanging off the gates of Downing Street demanding to know if she was complicit in the knowledge of his plans (the fact that the Republican majority leader only found out about the directive from the media does not seem to have allayed fears about the content of Friday’s tete-a-tete). More important than the did-she-know- didn’t-she-know see saw, are the broader implications of what Trump’s directive and his behaviour since, have set in motion on the global playground of politics.
It was not just a simple directive that Trump issued; it was the formal unleashing of a political ideology, the like of which has been unseen in modern moderate politics. His is a unique brand of politics that refuses to kneel to the power of the media, nor to the popular outrage of the world’s population. It is a politics that means he can sack the acting attorney-general for advising lawyers not to fight cases relating to those opposing his ban. It is a politics that is inspiring other powers in the western world to digress from their moderate positions.
Nowhere is this trend more evident than Europe. As expected, Le Pen did not miss a chance to align her party with President Trump’s radical populism, with one of her advisors stating that the Front National would not be opposed to implementing a similar Muslim-banning policy in the event of a Le Pen victory. Similarly, the Austrian coalition government have also decided upon a tighter immigration package which will see German language and integration classes implemented, as well as a burqa ban. It is as if Trump’s directive was the first domino to fall in the precarious state of the political status-quo of the west.
Indeed, despite the ongoing demonstrations against Trump’s directive that have spread like wildfire around the world, he is steadfast in his decision. This refusal to renege on his executive order in the face of public furore is something that characterises Trump as a very new type of leader. He will not kowtow to the establishment, to the press and nor to his electors.
Much like children in school yard, other politicians are finding inspiration in his irreverence. In a bizarre reversal of the typical dynamic, we the general public now find ourselves in the position of school staff, with Trump and his cronies acting as the group of classroom tyrants testing our limits. Some are preparing the case for his expulsion, but the more important question is that predicated on the phenomenon witnessed in Europe; how many others will Trump lead astray?