The idea is to confuse your opponents and force them onto the defensive, distracting the audience from the real issues at stake through personal attacks, wrongfooting and provocation

Like many others I have been angered and distressed by Donald Trump’s visit to the UK, his attempted interference in our government and the predictable reactions of the pro-Brexit politicians and media. The wonderful protests against his visit cannot entirely compensate for the destabilising effect of his behaviour and words. But I am fairly certain this is the intention.

As a linguist, I believe that the constant backtracking and wrongfooting – undermining Theresa May one day and appearing to support her the next; the apparent tolerance for the protests (even for the baby blimp) followed by a vicious personal attack on Sadiq Khan – is entirely deliberate. These are the tactics Trump has employed throughout his presidency, for example in his ambiguous attitude to the Kremlin and his teasing about meeting the North Korean leader.

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