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British leaders change tack after Trump win

world Updated: Nov 14, 2016 16:52 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Donald Trump

File photo of president-elect Donald Trump (left) with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus during a rally in New York. (AP)

“When facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” - the famous quote attributed to economist John Maynard Keynes has been quickly adapted by leading lights of the Theresa May government after Donald Trump won the US presidential election.

From trenchant criticism some time ago by May as home secretary and the loquacious Boris Johnson as the London mayor - to the effect that Trump was unfit for the high office - Johnson on Monday insisted the real estate mogul was a “dealmaker” and would be good for Britain.

Trump came in for severe criticism in Britain during the election campaign for claiming that parts of London were so radicalised that they were “no-go” areas for police. MPs had demanded he be banned from entering Britain.

In the wake of Trump’s victory, Johnson, now the foreign secretary, said: "I think there is a lot to be positive about and it is very important not to prejudge the president-elect or his administration. It's only a few days since the election has taken place. I think we all need to wait and see what they come up with. But I think we should regard it as a moment for opportunity.”

He added, "Donald Trump is a dealmaker and I think that could be a good thing for Britain, but it could also be a good thing for Europe and that I think is what we need to focus on today.”

In advance quotes released by Downing Street before an event at the Guildhall on Monday evening, May is due to say that Trump’s victory showed her government must deal once and for all with the "overlooked" communities that have been transformed irrevocably by immigration without the "permission" of British voters. 

In what is billed as the first significant assessment of Trump’s election, May is due to say his victory shows the need for a “new approach to managing the forces of globalisation” that did not ignore the working classes.

May spoke to Trump on phone and the two leaders renewed their commitment to the “special relationship” between the two countries. But there is much hand-wringing in the May government over UKIP leader Nigel Farage‘s proximity to Trump.

 Farage, who campaigned for Trump, was the first international leader the president-elect met on Sunday, encouraging the UKIP leader to offer his services to the British government to help build bridges with the Trump team – an offer that was promptly turned down.