Donald Trump impeachment: Why UK politicians should beware a similar fate – leader comment

British MPs need to worry about being exposed by principled civil servants if they engage in Trump-style behaviour.

US President Donald Trump (Picture: Evan Vucci/AP)

The announcement of the first charges of impeachment against Donald Trump – accusing him of the “high crimes and misdemeanours” of abuse of power and obstructing Congress – should serve as a warning to all those involved in government in the UK.

It should, most importantly, act as a deterrent to those in this country who see Trump as a winner whose political strategies should be copied. That should be already obvious because his wheeler-dealer style of politics is ultimately hollow. He attacks those who criticise him, rather than responding to the substance of what they are saying, he dismisses news he doesn’t like as “fake” despite sometimes taped evidence that it is true, he seeks “loyalty” from officials to the extent that former FBI director James Comey likened him to a mafia boss, and he whips of nationalist sentiment as a substitute for good policies.

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On the world stage, he has undermined Nato and, spurning the benefits of free trade, thrown up new tariffs in an attempt to bully other countries. Added to his numerous lies, half-truths and mistakes, his racism and his despicable attitudes towards women, this should be a politician that no one would seek to emulate. The first impeachment charge accuses him of using his powers as president “to “obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest” after he allegedly pressured Ukraine’s president to open an investigation into Democrat nomination contender Joe Biden’s son. The supposed “quid pro quo” included more than £300 million in military aid that Ukraine desperately needed to fight its ongoing war with Russian-backed separatists.

It remains to be seen whether Republicans in the Senate will stomach this kind of ‘deal’ if they are required to put Trump on trial. Given the strength of the evidence against him, they may face a more difficult decision than their current attitudes suggests. The UK does not have a US-style impeachment process, but the Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers and MPs must still answer to the court of public opinion. Just as in the Democrats leading the impeachment drive needed hard evidence of wrongdoing, so too would the British public. This means civil servants should be inspired by their US counterparts and blow the whistle if necessary. And British Trump wannabes should be wary, lest they fall foul of their judge – the people.