Tens of thousands of Brits will gather in London in July to protest against Trump’s visit to the UK. But in the name of what? What will this achieve? In a post-Brexit world, we cannot sever ties with the USA — in the end, it will do more harm than good.

No one is denying that Trump has some severely questionable views on race, women, the American economy, Muslims, immigration and — well — just about everything really. However, ultimately — and realistically — we need to maintain strong trade links with the US and keep America as a political ally.

Traditionally, America and the UK have shared what has been referred to as a ‘special relationship’, but the decision to cancel the American President’s state visit back in ­­­­February stoked fears of this relationship cooling somewhat. Yet in spite of this, as is evident from the immense estimated turnout at the upcoming protest, it seems most of the British public care little for this union with the US.

Personally, I have always disliked this term ‘special relationship’; such alliances serve mainly to widen the chasm between the East and the West, and foster an ‘us vs them’ attitude. However, as much as we may not like to admit it, we need America. Just like we need China, Australia, Canada, South Korea, and whoever else may take enough pity on the UK to grant us a favourable trade deal after the utter mess which Brexit has become is finally done and dusted.

With his usual eloquence and articulacy, Trump last year claimed that he was looking forward to a ‘big and exciting’ trade deal with the UK after Brexit. Translated from Trump-speak, I suppose this would mean a favourable deal for Britain. One with slashed tariffs, less unnecessary regulation and freer trade. This is what we want and need, regardless of who is making the offer.

More recently however, it has been feared that our chances of securing a trade deal of this nature may be scuppered. Following negotiations and talks between Britain and the US, it has emerged that Trump is concerned that the proposed deal is not favourable enough to America. Specifically, he wants to scrap (expensive) regulations which ensure environmental and ethical standards are met. This would mean British supermarkets could become filled with American chlorinated chicken, GM wheat and meat pumped with hormones. In return, we can sell our Land Rovers, banking services and plane engines to the USA with low tariffs.

Of course, in Britain, this prompted a country-wide backlash, brought out the usual liberal lamenters, and caused the fledgling negotiations to grind to a halt.

The protesters in London next week will be arguing that Trump’s disregard for ethics and lack of concern for the environment during trade deal talks, is a sure sign that we should abandon negotiations altogether. They have a strong case. However, the cold, hard reality is that Trump’s proposed deal is better than no deal at all. We have to keep up a dialogue with America about trade — or Trump might get bored and move on.

Regardless of Trump’s personal views and domestic policies, his enthusiasm about a bilateral trade agreement (an enthusiasm which India and Japan do not share) should be enough to make us realise that whether we like it or not, we need free and easy trade with America after we leave the EU. While the Japanese prime minister has said that a deal with the EU is more of a priority than setting one up with the UK after Brexit, Trump is putting us at the top of his list and we should be taking advantage of this.

Yes, Trump is an imbecile. We all know that. But he’s a very powerful imbecile. The root of this problem is that any debate about American politics essentially constitutes anti-Trump rhetoric — and nothing else. Yes, an anti-Trump stance is entirely justifiable, but perhaps we need some balance. Perhaps we need some analysis — and criticism, don’t get me wrong — of Trump’s policies rather than of the man himself.

This is all symptomatic of our tendency to pigeonhole, to lambaste politicians on the basis of one flippant remark, to divorce ourselves from those who we disagree with, rather than try and prove them wrong. So instead of feebly labelling Trump as racist, sexist, transphobic, tactless and incompetent (all of that is old news), let’s try and get off the back foot in terms of negotiating a trade deal.

Ultimately, we are shooting ourselves in the foot by putting up a wall between us and America. Trump can put up all the walls he likes (as we have seen) but now that we are abandoning the European Union, we really can’t afford to do the same.

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