Trump’s on trial. Russian government’s a goner. Big Ben’s bonked. Brexit means Megxit? A weird week in Westminster, and the world. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, 2020 looks like it’s started as it means to go on.
‘You put your whole self in, your whole self out .. You do the hokey cokey, And you turn around. That’s what it’s all about!’
Actually, seems more hocus-pocus than hokey cokey, both in Washington and Moscow, as well as back in Blighty.
Evidence stacks up that The Donald really did try and get the Ukrainians to dish the dirt on Democrats, and withhold aid if they didn’t, but the impeachment process will almost certainly not get him out.
The Republican majority in The Senate will see to that.
Still, you can’t beat strong-arm strictures to get things done. Ask Vladimir Putin.
He fancies being president for life, against his country’s constitution. Easy way to sort it, just change it. Government getting in the way? Just lose it. Simples, as they sing on the Volga.
Even Muscovites were taken aback when the Russian Prime Minister announced he was off, along with everyone else. But they are.
Bet Bojo wishes he could have done that sort of thing when parliament was kicking off over Brexit.
But now that the British electorate’s given him an eighty-strong majority he doesn’t even need to. If MP’s don’t like what he’s doing, they can do one. At least for the time being.
So, in under a fortnight, he really will get Brexit done. Or at least get the horse out of the traps. Or trap, as he tells us, of an overmighty European Union.
It’s only the beginning mind. The tricky trade thing will take longer, though quite how long remains an open question.
Boris Johnson insists it’s all done and dusted by the end of the year. Dispelling doubts in a word. A little-used one, admittedly, but in the dictionary.
The chances of it all going through, he told BBC Breakfast, were ‘epically likely’.
He did, however, admit that Brexit was ‘one of my least favourite subjects’.
Can’t think why, given the ringing endorsement his stance received just two days later from the new European trade commissioner, Phil Hogan.
His take on a full trade deal by year’s end? ‘Just not possible.’
Deadlines, then? Not setting them at all was the ‘wisest thing’.
That said, the big boys in Brussels may not get it all their own way. They want to set tough conditions on UK, pour l’encouragement des autres, excuse my French, but some countries may have other ideas.
Obviously, we’ve got most to lose from a no-deal scenario. But it’d hurt smaller member states too. A space worth watching.
Meantime, Nigel Farage is foaming with excitement at the thought of the big Out night out. He’s planning a party outside the Palace of Westminster, all bells and whistles.
Well, not bells, it turns out, as the Prime Minister’s plan to ‘bung a bob for a Big Ben bong’ belly-flopped.
Because the thing’s being refurbished, the clapper’s been taken out. And it’d cost a cool half-million to pop it back in.
So why not, Bojo wondered, let the public fund it?
Because we can’t accept money in this way, the parliamentary people pointed out. That’s why not.
Oh well, murmured Number Ten, we’re more focussed on our own plans to mark the occasion.
A speech by the Prime Minister. Golly! A clock projected on to Downing Street marking the minutes. Gosh! And an admission from the Chancellor that not all businesses will benefit from post-Brexit regulations.
A great start to negotiating the most important trade deal in our history. Not.
But, with an eye to where we go from Europe, that’s to say America, Bojo’s been balancing options with care.
Now that immediate tensions with the Iranians have simmered down a tad, attention’s shifted to the underlying issue – the scheme intended to limit their nuclear ambitions.
Seemed to be working until The Donald decided he didn’t like it, and pulled out. Partly, it seems, because it was negotiated by Barak Obama. Which made it the worst deal ever, natch.
Ok, announced Boris Johnson, ‘let’s replace it with the Trump deal… President Trump is a great dealmaker by his own account, and by many others’.
Which makes sucking up look like poking someone in the eye with a rusty bargepole.
Against that, Bojo is apparently minded to let the Chinese company Huawei provide infrastructure for Britain’s 5G wireless network.
This’ll help connect everything from laptops and smart fridges to self-driving cars, and the Yanks don’t seem over-keen on the idea. ‘Nothing short of madness’ was how officials described it last week.
That should oil the wheels of a new UK/US trade tie-in nicely then. Once again, not.
Another knotty problem, this time for the Royals, also centres on transatlantic relations.
With Harry and Meghan decamping to Canada half the time, it’s far from clear what their future role will be, and what royal perks will still be on offer.
Even less clear is exactly what’s behind their decision to semi detach from the family.
Gets people going down the pub, that one. And in Fleet Street. Megxit’s hardly comparable to Brexit, but, hey, we’ve been in the habit of hating for a while. Shame to stop now.
And the great thing about being up there on a pedestal is you make a better target for shooting down.
Being way out in front in Labour’s leadership contest also makes Sir Keir Starmer the teeniest bit vulnerable.
Some are asking isn’t he just a bit too white? A bit too metropolitan? A bit too male?
Whatevs, having done the MP bit, they’re hastening to the hustings to try and get the members onside.
Probably all turn out to be a waste of words, but the exercise is always comforting for a party the voters just kicked out of bed.
Gives them something to do. It was the same for the Tories after Tony Blair wiped the floor with them back in 1997.
What’s that word Boris copped out of using that day? Related to comforting?
Oh yes, onanism …
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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