Before it has even begun, Donald Trump has built an epic storyline around his UK state visit.
He rarely leaves Washington without making waves and seemingly didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity this time either.
Just like his previous visit, the president decided to lob a few political hand grenades before arrival, offering his views on how Britain should handle Brexit and heaping praise on his friends Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson rather than focusing on the prime minister who he’s about to meet again.
But she is the lamest of lame duck prime ministers and he’s a man who doesn’t like to miss a chance to catch up with politicians he thinks share his language and views (even if in the case of Mr Johnson they’ve taken a bit of a u-turn).
The president was never going to let himself be strangled by the constraints of conventional diplomacy. But dare I say it, there is a very real chance it will all be a lot more formal and and formulaic from here on in. State visits are predominantly royal affairs, more ceremonial than political.
Mr Trump will love the pomp and pageantry and as a man with an obsessive eye on optics, he will desperately want the visuals to play well at home, especially with a re-election race around the corner.
There is little incentive for him to make a mess of it either.
He has a fondness for Britain, his Scottish mother loved the Queen and he’s brought his adult children along for the ride.
Don’t underestimate how much he’ll delight in the occasion of it all. A state visit has the ability to leave its guests awe-struck.
Of course there is some so-called “executive time” baked in and a dinner where he gets to choose the guests. That has the potential to provide an uncomfortable sideshow.
There are the policy divides too – differing views on how to respond to Iranian aggression and America hasn’t taken kindly to the idea British ministers will allow the telecoms giant Huawei to build part of the UK’s 5G mobile network.
But with such a packed schedule at such a fragile political time and a governing party stuck in a myopic leadership battle, it’s hard to imagine they’ll have the time to argue over substantive foreign policy. But who knows? A tweet can go a long way…
The Trump administration does want to work on a deal with Britain though.
In an exclusive interview last week, President Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton told me that the president is “looking forward to a day the US and the UK can negotiate a bilateral agreement that will be beneficial to both countries”.
In recent months, the White House has been consistently positive, viewing a UK-US trade agreement as a priority with great prospects.
The president is enjoying the highest approval rating in two years. Both sides want this visit to work.
Britain is in the middle of an extremely delicate moment and the government knows it needs to keep and improve its relationships outside of Europe.
America, and yes, Mr Trump, will be key to that.
Source: SKY NEWS