Alan Duncan makes an ambitious bid to deny the rudeness of Donald Trump
The Foreign Office minister called Trump a 'controversialist' - and suggested there would be no Love Actually-style slap down.
Downing Street’s worst fears were realised on Thursday night when Donald Trump touched down in the UK and promptly eviscerated Theresa May’s Brexit strategy on the day it was published. For good measure, he also backed Boris Johnson for prime minister.
On ITV’s This Morning, Emily Thornberry spoke for much of the nation when she said it was it was “extraordinarily rude of Donald Trump to behave like this” in front of May.
“She is his host. What did his mother teach him? This is not the way you behave,” she added.
And she advised the prime minister: “You need to stand up to him. She is letting down our country by not standing up to him.”
But anyone else wanting the government to take such an approach will have been sorely disappointed by the performance of Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan who was sent out to bat on the Today programme.
Duncan began by boldly trying to claim that Trump only trashed May’s Brexit plan because he hadn’t seen the finer details of the white paper.
“Actually, events have moved on somewhat, because even as he was giving that interview, the white paper was being published in London. And so now that the details of the white paper are clear, the president and the prime minister will be able to discuss this in more detail at Chequers today.”
He then made an ambitious bid to pretend that nobody was offended by Trump purposefully undermining the prime minister on British soil.
"Donald Trump is in many ways a controversialist, that's his style, that's the colour he brings to the world stage. He is that sense very unconventional. I don't think we see it as rude.”
And he appeared to confirm that May would not be bowing to calls to issue a Love Actually-style slap down to the president at any point. Rather the government will continue to treat Trump as a normal, sane president with whom you can conduct traditional diplomacy.
“We will be respectful and polite to Donald Trump. We believe in diplomatic good manners.”