Ah, the ‘Special Relationship’. Britain and America, the best of friends, from Churchill and Roosevelt, Macmillan and Kennedy, Thatcher and Reagan to Blair and Bush. We stood against the forces of Nazism and Communism together, we brought down the evil dictators of the Arab world together, we gave hope to those who had none. Or, that is what our politicians like to tell themselves.

I am not sure that anyone really believes it. The Americans raise it when they feel obliged to massage our national ego, whilst our politicians discuss it with the sheepish air of those who know that what they are saying is bunkum.

Some, mostly recent Cabinet ministers, bluster on about it as though they are so easily duped by a long-term (pretty dreadful) PR campaign to project Britain as a superpower which they themselves play a part in. The Americans will be the ones that save us when we finally leave the EU by giving us a fantastic trade deal, according to Hard Brexiteers, and we will be retaking our place at their side when doing etc, etc. Well, Donald #Trump has pretty much put paid to this stupid idea in his #APEC speech.

Britain second?

"I am always going to put America first", President Trump quite rightly told the leaders of the Asia nations present at the summit following in the footsteps of every American president since Washington.

Woodrow Wilson expressed similar sentiments in not wanting to commit his country's forces to the blood-soaked Western Front of the First World War. His caution set the United States on course for eclipsing Britain as the world's foremost power. After bankrupting us in return for Lend-Lease aid, the Americans, including President Roosevelt, were still unwilling to involve themselves in the Second World War, after which they provided Marshall Aid on the condition that we killed off the empire.

Eisenhower scuppered the foolish Suez campaign, and Raegan famously apologised to Mrs Thatcher only after he ordered the invasion of Grenada. Key members of Raegan's cabinet supported Argentina over the Falklands War, Clinton helped to force our retreat in Northern Ireland (which, in my view, gave far too much to the IRA), Bush saw us as useful stooges in the disgraceful, utopian wars in the Middle East, whilst Obama thought he had a right to involve himself in the EU membership referendum.

All of this makes it quite obvious who the Americans put first, they do not have romantic notions about the country they fought to liberate themselves from, which they commemorate in their national anthem. We are not brother nations, that was the Commonwealth before we shamefully swapped it for the then Common Market. The Americans have the good sense to live by Palmerston's dictum that "We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." We used to do the same but, since we have failed to really come to terms with our reduced status following the Second World War, we have submitted ourselves to the United States and the European Union.

Who can blame them? It is a sensible foreign policy and has propelled them to the top spot, and when it comes to a clash of interests, whose will do you think really prevails?

On and on it goes

Trump made this important point in the second half of that sentence when he said: "the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first." This is not what the naïve idealists wish to hear but it is a sensible approach, for once. His new closeness to China shows that he is at least in touch with the direction that power is shifting. Pax Americana is dying, and no matter what he says, Trump cannot stop this. It is an inevitability, and when it happens Britain will not be able to clutch to America's coat-tails.

No one takes Theresa May's government seriously (if anyone takes modern Britain seriously), certainly not the Americans, and they will have even less respect when the next round of defence budget cuts comes around. After this our Armed Forces will be crippled in a way quite unlike they have ever been, and then our white elephant aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines will not cut much mustard. This, when trying, desperately, to impress a country whose former leader (Woodrow Wilson) once said that, unless Britain surrendered its naval supremacy in the Washington Naval Treaty, another war would follow in which Britain "would be wiped off the face of the map."

We really have to get our heads out of the clouds and remind ourselves of what one of our great foreign secretaries, Palmerston, said.

Of course, we must and should co-operate with other countries, and I have a great deal of respect for the United States (I can think of no other country I'd rather have replace us as a superpower), but we cannot expect to rely on the Americans forever and it is unhealthy to ever have to expect to. None of it was ever personal, it was politics. If Brexit means anything it is that Britain will stand-up in the world, with self-respect and a desire to co-operate with the rest of the world, not as a superpower (that will never happen again), but always working in our own interest because no one else will. We were called Perfidious Albion for a reason.

To this end I think it is worth remembering the words of President Wilson in 1919:

"You must not speak of us who come over here as cousins, still less as brothers; we are neither.

Neither must you think of us as Anglo-Saxons, for that term can no longer be rightly applied to the people of the United States. Nor must too much importance in this connection be attached to the fact that English is our common language... No, there are only two things which can establish and maintain closer relations between your country and mine; they are community of ideals and of interests."

I'll leave you to decide what happens when we don't share those interests.