News & Politics

Theresa May Will Invoke Scottish Culture While Talking Brexit With Trump

A quaich. Photograph via iStock.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will present President Trump with an engraved quaich on Friday, “a timeless reminder of the enduring Scottish values of friendship and hospitality,” according to a press release about her trip to the US.

What’s interesting about this gift isn’t the quaich, a bowl-like cup with handles sometimes used at important occasions for whisky toasts. What’s interesting is May’s invocation of Scots culture while talking Brexit, which is deeply unpopular in Scotland, with Donald Trump, who is perhaps even less popular in Scotland.

An overwhelming majority of Scots voted to remain in the European Union last summer, and Scotland’s government has thrown everything it can at May’s efforts to carry out Britain’s exit from the EU. Scotland unsuccessfully argued before Britain’s Supreme Court that Britain had to seek the assent of Scotland’s parliament to leave; now it’s likely the small country in the north of Britain will hold another referendum on independence.

Trump has deep roots in Scotland: His mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, emigrated from the Outer Hebrides to New York in 1930. He owns two golf courses in the country and used to hold an honorary degree from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University and was named a “GlobalScot” ambassador to business; he was stripped of both honors last year and a petition to ban him from the country was especially popular north of Hadrian’s Wall.  Scots now compete for the best ways to insult the man who, while asked for evidence to support his opposition to a Scottish plan for wind energy, memorably said, “I am the evidence.”

The Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon have not yet responded to a query from Washingtonian about their thoughts on May’s use of Scottish culture in this instance.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.