POLITICS ACROSS THE POND: MP Andrew Bridgen weighs in on Theresa May’s ad hominem attack on PM Boris Johnson and Biden’s impeachment of Trump.

In the UK, we have former PM Theresa May attacking the current PM Boris Johnson. Across the pond,  the newly inaugurated President Joe Biden is going after the now defeated Donald J. Trump.

Former PM Theresa May faced considerable criticism for her ad hominem attack on PM Boris Johnson, where she appeared on the front page of Daily Mail to claim the moral high ground. May was deeply critical of Johnson’s proposal to amend the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement through the threatened introduction of the Internal Markets Bill in the UK Parliament and the reduction of the UK’s controversial 0.7 % of GDP commitment to the Foreign Aid budget. 

As someone who supported both of these measures, I have publicly defended PM Johnson and his actions.

Here’s why. 

The proposed Internal Markets Bill was a necessary response during the later stages of the UK-EU trade negotiations. The UK position was under threat from the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier who was proposing to interpret the Withdrawal Agreement (signed by both parties in 2019) in such a way that in the event of a no-deal departure from the bloc, the EU would ban many food exports from the UK mainland to another part of the UK, namely Northern Ireland. The UK side rightly saw this as an act of bad faith in the negotiations and retaliated.

PM Johnson’s introduction of the Internal Market’s Bill to the UK Parliament never completed its passage through Parliament, but it served its purpose to force the EU to back down at a crucial stage of the tense and at times fraught negotiations.

In 2013, PM David Cameron opted to spend  0.7 % of the UK’s GDP on the foreign aid budgetThen and there, Cameron’s plan was sold to skeptical backbenchers as a marker for other economically developed countries to follow, a way to force them to increase their own foreign aid budgets to the same level as the UK. As history shows us, this did not happen.

Nick Timothy, a former senior advisor to the May administration, came out this week to admonish May for her Johnson attack. He released the political bombshell that the May administration had in fact, considered reducing the UK Foreign Aid budget back in 2017. Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, goes the old saying. 

The fact that May so publicly, on the front page of Daily Mail, attacked her successor should be of broader concern to those at Number 10. It is illogical and unlikely that May acted as a lone wolf and hints that there may be a group of dissatisfied Conservative MPs hiding in the wings. That said, the potential insurgents will have little comfort from minimal media or public support that May’s article got, except for the usual suspects.

Meanwhile, in the US, impeachment appears to be the flavor of the month on Capitol Hill. For Joe Biden to spend the political currency of his Presidential honeymoon period, in managerial speak – the first 100 days, or a good proportion of it trying to criminalize his predecessor, says a lot about how much the Democrats still fear Donald Trump. 

I am not sure that Biden’s pre-election pledges to bring the country back together will be at all served well by such a continued attack on the man whose sizable minority of 70 plus million supporters still believe he actually won the election.

Who the President of the USA is, what he says, and what he does is of considerable interest to the whole world, not least in the UK. The United States of America is the world’s number one superpower through its economy and, by extension, its political and military might. 

Still, there is a clue in America’s title, and that is “United.” While the USA is so split politically, it remains of huge concern to her friends and allies and a huge source of comfort to her enemies. I don’t think a witch-hunt conducted against Trump and, by inference, his die-hard supporters is either healthy or desirable. Given the allegations of corruption that Hunter Biden seems mired in, perhaps the Biden administration should heed the old adage that “those who live by the sword” very often have it backfire at them.

Andrew Bridgen

Andrew Bridgen is a Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire.