Ron DeSantis fails to impress UK business leaders with ‘horrendous’ performance

Ron DeSantis

The reviews are in for Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ address to British business leaders as part of his UK visit – and they’re devastatingly terrible. 

The Republican presidential hopeful – who has overseen the passing of some of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US – spent Friday (28 April) meeting with UK foreign secretary James Cleverly and business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch.

DeSantis also headlined a private, high-profile event co-hosted with Lloyd’s of London, where he delivered a speech to business chiefs – and resoundingly failed to impress. 

According to POLITICO, his performance was described as “low-wattage” and “horrendous”, with one business figure noting that DeSantis “looked bored” and “stared at his feet”. 

“He had been to five different countries in five days and he definitely looked spent, but his message wasn’t presidential,” POLITICO reports the source as saying. “He was horrendous.”

Another said the perfomance was “low-wattage”, with “nobody in the room” left thinking “this man’s going places”. 

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“It felt really a bit like we were watching a state-level politician,” they continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised if [people in attendance] came out thinking ‘that’s not the guy’.”

“There wasn’t any stardust.”

The publication dubbed DeSantis “Ron DeTedious” for his poorly received performance.

Friday represents the fourth stop on DeSantis’ “trade mission” tour, which included visits to Israel, South Korea and Japan as the anti-LGBTQ+ lawmaker seeks to assert himself as the best choice for the Republican presidential nomination. 

The safety of LGBTQ+ people ‘a matter for Florida’

Despite warnings that Florida is a hostile place for LGBTQ+ travellers and reports of families fleeing the state due to its anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, a spokesperson from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office told PinkNews that Florida’s laws are “a matter for them”.

“The foreign secretary met Governor Ron DeSantis in London to discuss the close and important partnership between the UK and Florida.

“This meeting was an opportunity to strengthen ties with the fourth-largest US state, and support bilateral economic cooperation that is already worth more than £5 billion a year.

“The UK consistently engages with individual US states and governors from all parties. The Florida government’s internal policies are a matter for them.”

DeSantis’ UK visit follows on from a rash of repressive anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-choice legislation in the Republican state, with Florida’s Board of Education voting to expand the state’s vile ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law to all school grades on 19 April. This means that any form of LGBTQ+ content is effectively banned in all classrooms.

It also comes in the wake of Disney launching legal action against the Florida governor, after he voted against a deal which gave the House of Mouse design and construction control over its properties. Disney has called DeSantis’ behaviour  “patently retaliatory, patently anti-business and patently unconstitutional”. 

DeSantis is currently trailing 37 percentage points behind indicted former president Donald Trump according to a Republican primaries poll from Morning Consult.

As of Tuesday (25 April), Trump is supported by a tracking high of 58 per cent of potential Republican voters, while DeSantis is backed by a low of 21 per cent.

The Department for Business and Trade declined to provide comment.

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