Donald Trump’s got off the impeachment rap, despite compelling evidence of guilt. And Boris Johnson’s tightening his stranglehold on the folk back home. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, the only way off a pinnacle is downwards.
‘There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow, just you wait and see. There’ll be love and laughter and peace ever after, tomorrow, when the world is free’.
Vera Lynn socked it to ’em when it looked like we really were all doomed in 1942. Everybody happy? Well, it helped.
Bojo’s a pretty cheery chappie too. Said it’d all be fine, and enough people went along with it to give him that stonking majority at the election.
And, sure enough, he got Brexit done. Collective sigh of relief. Yay! Goodbye to all that. Bollocks to politics now.
Next job for Johnson, bring on the laughter and peace ever after.
Er, could take a bit longer, that bit. After all, it’s only the political project that’s been sorted.
The trade deal, vital to the economic wellbeing of just about everyone except the likes of the people who made him Tory leader in the first place, remains a distant dream.
And if it all goes horribly wrong there’ll be hell to pay, financially, with good folk who’ve lent him their votes picking up much of the tab.
Best manage expectations then, shift things around a bit. Luckily, our ever-resourceful top man is on it. Having already banned ‘Brexit’ from Whitehall blurb, he’s done the same with the terms ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’.
Charmingly Orwellian, all of it. If you lose the word ‘freedom’, how can there be a problem with slavery?
And then there’s his latest cunning plan, unveiled this week.
Between PM and punters is the parliamentary lobby. The seekers after truth trooping into daily briefings to glean and polish his pearls of wisdom.
Annoyingly, from the Prime Ministerial perspective, we still have a free press. But Boris is free too, to decide who gets the message.
And, in a move of unprecedented boldness/weirdness, his scruffy Svengali Dom Cummings launched a three-pronged attack on the media.
First, he warned ministers’ special advisers not to accept free booze and bites from hacks.
Second, he told restauranteurs around Westminster to snitch on anyone who did. Oddly enough, they told him to do one.
But, undeterred, he cracked on with his crackdown on the wrong people trying to get in on the act.
Witness a so-called ‘technical briefing’ on the upcoming UK/EU trade talks given by a top dude in the Cabinet Office a few days ago.
Instead of just letting in all the journalists with the correct accreditation, he got a security guard, posted behind the door of No 10, to check off a list of names. And tell undesirables to check off, so to speak.
Everyone had to stand on one side of the red carpet, and the chosen ones were invited to cross over to the dark side.
The likes of the Daily Mirror, HuffPost, The Independent and the i newspaper were not.
Not as if they’d got guns or something – unlike David Cameron’s security beefcake, who caused a security alert by leaving his shooter in the loo of an airliner last week.
No, much worse than that, apparently, they were judged likely to give unsympathetic coverage to the info they were fed.
In the end the entire group of hacks, which included the Political Editors of the Beeb, ITV News and national newspapers, staged a walkout.
Cool, they kept their nerve. But where will it end?
Remember Rudyard Kipling. ‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.’ Watch out for pikes on London Bridge.
In fairness, Boris Johnson’s caution is well founded. After all, he’s angling for a have-your-cake-and-eat-it version of the deal the EU thrashed out with the Canadians.
Difference being he wants it done and dusted in a matter of months, whereas the Canadian thing took eight years, and still hasn’t been fully signed off.
That and the small matter of scale. Ours is ten times as big.
The alternative, says Bojo blithely, is an Australian-type arrangement. Great country, nice and warm. You know, speak English and all, just like us really.
Only problem being that what they’ve got with Europe is more or less a no-deal. Same as countries like Liberia or Rwanda.
Certainly, the mere mention of Oz caused, ahem, a boomerang effect in the money markets. Sterling had its worst day in seven weeks, dropping sharply against the euro, and the dollar.
Still, shares in Trump Inc have never been higher. The failed impeachment, lovely and short, with no witnesses called, looks to have been more a show of strength than show trial.
Result? His approval rating’s at its highest since he got in. Likewise his chances of re-election later this year. Seems he didn’t need to try and dish the dirt on the Democrats, even if he wanted to.
Also, the Republican Party is currently kissing his pert little mouth. Or the other end. If you can spot the difference.
Yet many of these same people dissed him like crazy when he was first standing for the presidency.
Moral of the tale? Power begets power.
Got its limits, mind. We know the Yanks are not happy about us letting pesky Chinese chappies in on the 5G superfast network infrastructure.
And it seems, on the blower to Bojo this week, the Donald swore like a trooper about it. Still, our man’s a trouper, can take it.
Besides, he’s still king of his little Downing Street world, and consolidating his hold by the day.
Word is he wants to drastically slim down the cadre of ministers’ media advisers, and get what’s left of it directly appointed by Number Ten.
Then there’s the looming threat of a major reshuffle hanging over the heads of everyone in cabinet. Little wonder Boris is the only person round the table getting sucked up to these days.
Not that strongarm tactics always work. It appears a peerage for the ever-assertive former commons speaker John Bercow ain’t happening.
Convention has it the government does the honours, so to speak. But the Tories hate the little fellow as much as Labour love him.
Hence Jeremy Corbyn, still around, vaguely, putting him forward.
Problem being that allegations about Bercow bullying staff, so badly one of them sought treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, keep on coming.
All out of order of course, he shouts. Indeed, at one suggestion he hadn’t been terribly nice, he’s reported to have said he wasn’t going to have the case proved ‘on the word of any f***ing clerk’.
Though even he owns up to the occasional dander issue.
Once, as a shadow education minister, he was so desperate to get a briefing note out of someone’s office he ordered the door to be broken down.
And when his successor as Commons Speaker made a joke about it he got in such a snit he burst through another door, flooring in the process a poor unsuspecting painter and decorator.
Ok, ok, he admitted. ‘I do seem to have a problem with doors’.
And why is all this coming out now, not when he was the all-powerful Commons Speaker? Because was is not is.
Food for thought for Bozzie Bear and Trump the Invincible?
Watch your ass, guys. What goes around might just come around. Maybe sooner than you think.
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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