Our Prime Minister’s been getting up close and personal with the President of the United States of America. Laying the foundations for the slew of new trade deals he hopes will make post-Brexit Britain greater than ever. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, there may be trouble ahead.
Sexy place, Biarritz. Shame about some of the people. Some might say.
Nestling on south-western France’s Basque coast, it’s been home for a mo to some of the world’s most powerful men and women.
Gathered at the G7 summit of world leaders, they witnessed Bojo and The Donald doing everything short of getting naked together.
Tut tut, both are already spoken for. But both have also had their moments, nudge nudge, nod and a wink.
You wonder how Boris coped with all this excitement, after the fun he’d just been having in France and Germany.
Behind the outward show of bonhomie, he seemed to be reprising Margaret Thatcher’s oft-quoted line from her Tory conference speech in 1980. ‘You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.’
It was certainly a lot closer to that than to Winston Churchill’s famous dictum: ‘To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war’.
And there are two schools of thought about the outcome of his talks with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel.
One: A no-deal Brexit is now more likely than ever, and it’s all the fault of those stinky foreigners.
And two: A no-deal Brexit is now more likely than ever, and it’s all the fault of those stinky Inselaffen.
Handy word that. German. Means island apes. Nothing paleontological about it, just the nickname for British troops occupying the north of their country at the end of World War Two.
Not a lot of love lost anywhere at that time. Indeed, the concept of the European Union sprang from the idea of making sure it never happened again.
The French and Germans decided, if they pooled coal and steel capacity, war between them would be more than unthinkable, it’d be impossible.
It’s done the trick since, and, twenty or so years down the line, the UK joined the party.
Now on the brink of un-joining it, our government is sidling up instead to the Americans. And Donald Trump says yee-haw, be our pardners!
It’s certainly true the Bojo/Donald chemistry is good. Both gentlemen, it seems, prefer blondes. But it’s also true one of them at least can be a little impulsive.
Take Mr Trump’s cunning plan last week to buy Greenland. When the current owners, Denmark, pooh-poohed the idea he said that was ‘nasty’ and cancelled a state visit to the country.
This’d make a funny if faintly implausible line in a satirical play, if it didn’t happen to be true.
In the event, the US Secretary of State managed subsequently to smooth things over. So Yankee-Nordic relations aren’t after all damaged beyond repair.
An indication, nonetheless, of the limits to US Presidential power.
The Donald’s wonderful wheeze of signing up the Limeys to all manner of post-Brexit trade deals could also get lost in transit through the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
They say no dice to anything that threatens peace in Northern Ireland. So, to paraphrase slightly, if Trump thinks he can do it anyway he can stick it.
All this may be for another day. But still, something for Boris to ponder on before he gets in too deep.
And there’s also the matter of the US presidential election, only fifteen months away.
Major trade deals tend to be years in the making. And a new kid on the White House block could put the kibosh on all manner of painstakingly detailed negotiations, if he or she chose.
But how likely is it that Trump will lose?
Depends who you ask, of course, but seasoned Washington observers do put his chances of re-election at fifty-fifty at best.
Until recently the figure was more like thirty per cent. And there are plenty who believe it’ll slip back to closer to that figure.
Their reasoning being that the US economy is set to falter, thanks to The Donald’s trade war with China.
He’s always said all that’s fake news. (Oh, really?) But now that the signs are there for all to see he’s had to change his tune.
Taking a leaf out of the European book, he’s trying the blame game.
His new line being that it’s all China’s fault. Someone had to take these guys on. And he is, to quote, ‘the chosen one’.
Actually, he’s come in for a bit of stick over that. Especially as he also referred to himself as ‘the king of Israel’. And ‘the second coming of god’. Again, this is not comedy sketch material, it’s fact.
Oscar Wilde insisted he always chose his friends for their good looks, his acquaintances for their good characters and his enemies for their good intellects.
It’s not clear into which category Bojo would put his new bestie. Especially given things he’s said about him in the past.
When The Donald claimed Muslim extremists had created no-go areas in London, Bojo, the capital’s mayor at the time, accused him of ‘a quite stupefying ignorance’.
What’s more, he added, he wouldn’t risk inviting the then presidential candidate to see for himself because he didn’t want to expose Londoners to any unnecessary risk of meeting the man.
Funny how things change …
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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