Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has made her opposition to Donald Trump crystal clear and, once again, Theresa May needs to follow her lead.
On Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Brexit, Ruth Davidson has shown leadership qualities that leave Theresa May in the shade.
The Prime Minister has tended to tentatively criticise the US President’s various appalling statements, displaying her desperation for allies. Mr Trump’s reward for this loyalty has been to rebuke Ms May for suggesting he shouldn’t be retweeting British far-right propaganda and to undermine her by blything saying he would have taken a “tougher stand” in the Brexit talks.
In contrast, French President Emmanuel Macron’s robust approach – crushing Mr Trump’s hand to see off any of his alpha-male handshake antics and bluntly criticising the US President over a range of issues – seems to have turned him into Mr Trump’s favourite world leader. Ms Davidson has been more forthright than Mr Macron, describing Mr Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ as a “cruel and divisive” policy and now, in a new interview, saying the US President’s forthcoming visit to the UK is a “bad idea”, stopping just short of calling for people to take to the streets in protest.
Amid Mr Johnson’s diplomatic gaffes and political manoeuvring, Ms May has again shown weakness by not firing him. Ms Davidon’s warning to her frontbench MSPs that “writing something counter to policy” would mean they were “out on your ear as no one is unsacklable” was a coded message to the Prime Minister over her handling of the Foreign Secretary. And when it appeared Ms May was close to a Brexit deal that would have meant an internal border between Northern Ireland and the mainland UK, Ms Davidson spoke and suddenly the deal was different.
Ms Davidson also appears to be one of the few leaders to understand the dramatic reshaping of our political world. In the new interview, she spoke of her fear the world is heading into a “culture war” in which politics is no longer about left versus right but “open versus closed” as the “consensus about the idea of freedom” is challenged by those who wish to build up national borders.
In this coming fight, Mr Trump and hardline Brexiteers are on one side and Ms Davidson and the vast majority of Scots – of all parties – are on the other. It may be embarrassing for Ms May – and indeed Ms Davidson – but the Prime Minister yet again needs to follow her Scottish counterpart’s lead and pick a side.