It would be an understatement to say that it has been an extraordinary start to 2017 in British politics and international relations. We have witnessed Donald J. Trump assuming the mantle of The 45th President of the United States of America. This inauguration was swiftly followed, the next day (21st Jan), by Women's March events which took place across the globe and drew record numbers, including an estimated 100,000 marching in London and 500,000 in Washington DC.
It's safe to say that more and more people from all walks of life are becoming politically active at this time.
Shortly after becoming President, Donald Trump issued an invitation to our Prime Minister to be the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. This was a wonderful diplomatic coup; forging good relations with the 'Leader of the Free World' is important to all countries, but keeping America as our close ally is vital. The negotiation of US/UK trade deals is also a priority for Britain as we edge closer to breaking ties with the EU, leave the single market and look to increase our trade agreements with the wider world.
Before she left for the USA however, our Prime Minister had an incredibly busy week. First, she laid out more details of her Brexit plan, and then made a second major speech to introduce her Modern Industrial Strategy.
Shortly after introducing her industrial plan, Theresa May faced a, largely expected, challenge to the Brexit process when the Supreme Court ruled that further legislation was required to be passed by Parliament before Article 50 could be triggered. This meant a new bill, The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill had to be introduced. The bill is due to be initially debated by MPs on Tuesday 31st January and to clear the Commons on 8 February, after which it will move to the House of Lords.
It is now a well-documented fact that our Prime Minister made a brilliant speech in Philadelphia and did a fantastic job of forging a Special Relationship with President Trump when she arrived at the White House on 27th January. 'Special Relationship' is the unofficial term for the exceptionally close political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. It was used in a 1946 speech by Winston Churchill - you can read the transcript of the Press Conference which followed that meeting, here.
There have been a number of Executive Orders signed by the new president in his first week in power. The introduction of some of these has been somewhat controversial - namely the one President Trump issued which makes (temporary) changes to the US Immigration Policy. The Prime Minister has made it very clear however that she, and her government, intend to adhere to the democratic process and afford the new leader all due respect, whilst also making the welfare and rights of British people their priority. The Foreign Secretary put out a statement about the immigration policy on Monday, 30 January. You can watch that statement here and You can read how the ban might affect you here
In amongst all of this our hard-working Prime Minister found time to visit President Erdogan and Prime Minister Yildirim of Turkey and sign a £100m fighter jet deal. She then visited Wales where she held the first Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) to take place outside of London (see summary here) then moved over to Dublin for a meeting with Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kelly to discuss Brexit.
What a month!