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Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Dealmaker and the Politician

I was wrong in my assumption that Donald Trump would indulge the Congress in a lengthy trial of strength over Obamacare. He could not get his deal, on the due date, so he cancelled the whole reform plan. If he now sticks to his word - which is based on his business hunch - he will watch Obamacare implode [at huge cost to American individuals, American insurance companies and American healthcare providers] and then challenge Congress to have another try. Dealmaking skill depends very largely on the ability to exercise, and to execute, the threat to walk away from the whole proposition; even if the incident is costly: Trump has paid the cost many times in his career, and sees no substantial difference between a cancelled hotel deal and an abandoned Congressional bill.

Mrs May has no such experience. Her career has been in the back office of a public institution [the Bank of England], followed by non-decision-taking business experience, followed by politics and public office. While saying very little that could be taken as a binding declaration, she has given the impression that she is prepared to walk away from the post-Brexit negotiation with the European Union, leaving the country dangerously unready for true independence. Just two things are clear: her consciousness that as Home Secretary she 'failed' to reduce net immigration into the UK by amount that her leader had promised, and the simply dotty proposal that grammar schools must be promoted at a time when the overall educational budget is being painfully stretched over the existing schools system.

The economy patently needs immigrant labour; and parts of the university system will be brought more quickly to bankruptcy if the inflow of overseas students is cut off. Yet Mrs May has repeatedly stated that immigration control is a 'red line' even before negotiations begin. With a tiny parliamentary majority which is likely to evanesce as the Brexiteers and Remoaners become increasingly embittered, Mrs May's importation of a rogue element on grammar schools [which all the opposition parties oppose, either on principle or as a distraction from their main concerns] is evidence of a reckless naivete; such as is also seen in some of her remarks on the economic possibilities for Brexit.

Trump is widely seen [especially by European liberals] as an uncongenial bully: but he succeeds. Mrs May is a tabula rasa, even after her exposure as Tory Party Chairman and as a minister: and the great fear is growing that she will probably achieve nothing.

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