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F*ck Business?

F*ck Business?

Donald Trump talking to Boris Johnson

Getting a bit sweary all of a sudden. Inevitable perhaps, as the fog lifts and the Brexit battle lines become clearer. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, President Oversexed and Overpaid will soon be over here to trump them all.

The collapse of the Molotov/Von Ribbentrop pact in 1941 gave a new pertinence to the old saying ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Monster Stalin turned into the allies’ Chumski Joe.

Now scroll forward to the Tories’ leadership race, and consider where that leaves the runaway favourite Boris Johnson.

Before he’s even landed in dear old Blighty, Donald Trump has announced that Bojo – who’s chilled about a no-deal Brexit – is a ‘very good guy who’d make an excellent Prime Minister.

The Donald’s domestic ratings remain as healthy as the American economy.

But there’s something about his fight-picking, pussy-grabbing, getting-it-off-with-ladies-who-aren’t-his-wife ways which fail to appeal to everyone.

Including, maybe, some among the hundred-thousand or so Tory activists who’ll soon be deciding on the nation’s behalf who should lead it.

To put it bluntly, loads of us Brits see Trump as an enemy. Which begs the question – does his counting Johnson as a friend do Boris any favours?

My enemy’s friend is, er, my friend? Or my enemy? Discuss.

Loads of people will be out on the streets throughout the presidential visit. And they won’t be splitting hairs as they change the words of the old song ‘We Shall Overcome’ to ‘We Shall Over Comb’.

In short, Trump will be disabused of any theory that we Brits all love him.

There’s not a lot of love lost either between the dozen or so contestants for the Tory crown, as they slug it out over how we leave the EU.

Jeremy Hunt says it would be ‘political suicide’ to try and push for no-deal when/if we go on October 31st, while fellow hopeful Esther McVey maintains not leaving then, deal or no deal, would also be political suicide.

But they’re not the guys wondering how to keep their companies alive if overseas trade goes horribly weird in coming months.

Think of the distinction between pigs and chickens in the traditional English breakfast. Hens, like the politicians, are involved. Business folk are committed, same as the poor little porkers.

Hence the cri de cœur a few days ago from the Confederation of British Industry.

It warned no-deal would do ‘severe damage’ to its members, and smaller companies simply can’t afford to prepare for it.

But, hell, what does the CBI matter? It only claims to speak for the folk employing a third of the UK’s private sector workforce.

Against that, business has always been one of Tories’ main cash backers, and it’s said the party’s seriously, seriously strapped for cash these days.

Which makes you wonder whether Boris Johnson was altogether wise when he said, during his time as Foreign Secretary, ‘f*ck business’.

And, in case you’re wondering check the link, it is a matter of public record. He really did say that.

Which brings us back to where we started. It’s all getting a bit sweary these days.

The Lib Dems were clearly well served in the European elections by their slogan ‘b*ll*cks to Brexit’.

A Times/YouGov poll last week put them in first place, ahead of everyone including the Brexit Party. Their best result for nearly a decade.

So as they set about looking for a new leader to replace Sir Vince Cable, who’s retiring, all the Lib Dem wannabes have a spring in their step. Unlike the bedraggled mob vying for the Tory crown.

Not as if Labour’s exactly having a fun time of it either, mind, thanks to another bit of number-crunching following the Euro-vote.

A poll carried out by the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft found 14 percent of Brexit Party support came from hitherto Labour supporters. But getting on for three times that number switched to the anti-Brexit Lib Dems.

The fact is, for the instinctive Brexiteer that Jeremy Corbyn has always been, that figure is a slap in the face with a wet kipper.

He can stroke his beard and murmur about maybe, well sort of, if I really must kind of think about a second referendum as much as he likes.

The pressure on him from senior figures to go all out for it is getting close to tipping point. Watch this space.

Oh, and while you’re at it, keep an eye out for the commons speaker, John Bercow.

Trump will get a plethora of pomp and ceremony in coming days. But, unlike Barak Obama, will not be addressing parliament. Because Bercow banned it.

In his words: ‘An address to both Houses of Parliament is not an automatic right; it is an earned honour. My view is that he has not earned that honour.’

This made a lot of people frightfully cross. In fact, he’s always been deeply unpopular with his fellow Tory MP’s.

But, love him or hate him, he’s a consistent and fearless champion of the rights of parliament against the power of government.

And his mother of all punch-ups may not be long coming.

He said a few days ago it is ‘simply unimaginable’ that a no-deal exit could take place without parliament’s express permission.

That’s one in the eye for Tory leadership contenders, including Bojo, who say that may be the way forward.

But, because back in March parliament did vote to reject no-deal in any circumstances, Bercow does have guns he can stick by.

Which begs one final question. Is he the most courageous commons speaker since William Lenthall? The dude who famously told King Charles 1st to get on his bike?

Or is he, as one Tory minister once furiously spat out, a ‘stupid, sanctimonious dwarf?’

Like everything else in Brexit La La Land, it’s a polarised argument.


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.

Former Sky Correspondent Peter Spencer shot in front of his The Pink Palace home in Cornwall. He looks off camera holding a glass of brandy in his right hand

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