The Theresa and Donald show

The US briefing is very positive for the first Trump/May meeting. They have happy memories of President Reagan’s achievement, and fond recollections of the part Margaret Thatcher played alongside the US. Together they pursued and won the Cold War. Together they faced down the opposition of many Europeans to the Star Wars initiative which brought the USSR to the conclusion they could not longer compete without major reform. Together they cut taxes and promoted growth.

I remember well the day I took a translation of one of Mr Gorbachev’s speeches to Margaret Thatcher. At first she could not believe that Gorbachev would have made statements in favour of free enterprise economics in the way he did. Once she accepted the source, she realised the opportunity that dialogue might bring. It was the reward for the strong stance she and the President had taken in earlier years, as the failing USSR strained every sinew to try to keep up with the space and arms race. It did so only at the expense of a huge expenditure of resource from its relatively low income per head. It fell behind when computer and digital technology and its related creativity came to the fore.

The UK will want to argue that today is a different global agenda and Mrs May and Mr Trump are different people from the then Prime Minister and President. Where Reagan and Thatcher had to deal with the cold war, the armed threat to the west from the USSR, and the plight of the countries of Eastern Europe under Soviet control, President Trump and PM May have the complex threats of terrorism and aggressive movements in several countries around the world. Where the Soviet Union prevented the movement of people in Eastern Europe under threat of death for those who tried, today we have the worry of excessive movements of people fleeing economic failure and civil war elsewhere.

There are some similarities. In the USA Mr Trump like Mr Reagan does want to cut and simplify taxes on a large scale. He does want to pump up the US growth rate as Mr Reagan did. All US Presidents are persuaded to say the US/UK relationship is special, but only a few mean it. Ronnie did. I think Mr Trump will too.

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60 Comments

  1. Anthony Makara
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    The UK Conservative Party, its movers and shakers, need to get on board with President Trump’s vision. Only weeks ago we had Conservative Home openly backing Hillary Clinton and backing all the poisonous anti-family agendas being pushed by Clinton and the progressive media. Now the Prime Minister and others have to face reality and understand that their inverted values are out of step with the thinking of ordinary voters. The meeting with President Trump may be the reality check that Theresa May needs. Trump’s vision for the future is very different from the media-led progressive consensus that dominated the last 25 years. The times they are a changing and Conservatives in the UK need to understand that Neoliberalism and Progressivism are outdated and dead concepts now.

    • Chris
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Very well said, indeed, AM. There is a grand awakening due to TM and her aides.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      ‘The UK Conservative Party, its movers and shakers, need to get on board with President Trump’s vision’

      – No, no, no.
      We don’t want or need to accept the brash, vulgar values of the current White House.
      This is England. Not New England, New York or America.
      Looks like some people have allowed the champagne of Trump to go to their heads.

    • Mitchel
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.The progressives are now the reactionaries.

  2. Gerry Dorrian
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    It’s good to have a strong, conservative politician in the White House; hopefully he will help the Prime Minister stay strong over the democratic result of the EU referendum, which is summed up by one word: “out”.

  3. Iain Gill
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    It is Russian capsules taking people to and from space now. Your analysis that they lost the space race is wrong. They proved that often simpler is better.

    Other than that good blog entry.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Iain Gill,

      I think the UK was the country that lost the space race, giving up having developed satellite launch with Black Arrow. It is scary to think of the UK now talking industrial strategy having historically given up space launch know how, nuclear power know, military fighter know how, etc. amongst others.

      The next winners of the space race are/will be private. I hope free trade between US, Australia and U.K. will include space technologies.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        The greatest irony is that much of that technology then went to underpin the European Space Agency program and Ariane.

  4. Mick
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Putting aside the “locker room talk” Mr Trump is still the president of the most powerful country in the free world and our closest friend, so all these anti Trump people should get use to it he is there for 4years so give him a chance and back our PM to get the best deal and continue our special relationship

    • Chris
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      Current women’s “locker room” talk is far worse, I fear – utterly obscene in many cases.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        But that doesn’t count.

      • hefner
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Your point may be true, but nevertheless meaningless as none of these women are President of the USA.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      You’re absolutely right. We must work with him. But not follow his brand or approach to Conservatism.

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    It is absolutely essential that Mrs May makes it totally clear that in no way are “extraordinary rendition” or Abu Graib going to be carried out with British help of any kind.
    Similarly terrorists must be given a fair trial before they are sentences by a court of law. Guantanamo Bay must be all-American. We must have no part of it.
    I learn from a retired Colonel that if a British soldier captures an enemy who surrenders, that enemy becomes part of his own personal responsibility until he is handed to a senior officer. We must respect that.
    Whatever the cost.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Do you really mean “Whatever the cost”?

      • hefner
        Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        What is the cost of being (seen as) a civilised country?

  6. Bert Young
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    John you were very fortunate to have had the advisory role with Maggie ; I admired her during her period in office – still more so following my reading of her book ” The Route To Power “. If Theresa and Trump can seal the sort of relationship that existed during the Reagan / Thatcher days , it will ring a bell of confidence to the country . The sniping that has come from Brussels and the efforts of those like Blair and Branson to stoke up the fire of resentment , need to be put into perspective ; a fresh alliance with the USA is exactly the right sort of medecine .

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    But realistically I wouldn’t expect too much from a new trade deal. The proposed EU-US deal, TTIP, would be of little economic significance – a one-off increase in GDP of about 0.6% – and I doubt that an alternative deal would be much more valuable.

    Of course at the very least we will want to maintain the present level of freedom to trade with the US that we have while we are in the EU, but in terms of economic benefit to the UK there may not be much scope for significantly improving on that.

    Just as we should not countenance the europhiles’ gross exaggerations of the marginal economic benefits of the EU Single Market so we should not indulge in our own similar exaggerations about the benefits of new trade deals outside the EU.

    • Chris
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Symbolism is, of course, hugely important, and that should be used to full advantage.

      • getahead
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        And principle.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Let us hope the meeting is positive for both sides, and at least they both get on and feel comfortable in each others company.

    Let us not expect too much too soon, as we do not want to over egg the cake, only to find later that its turned stale, and no one wants to eat it.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Neither President Trump nor Mrs May are Reagan or Thatcher (true greats.) They are here because of a democratic failure to provide normal conservatism.

    It is heartening that our PM is the first world leader to see the pro Brexit President, a situation beyond the Remainers’ wildest predictions and of which they are still in denial. They would sooner prove themselves right than make the situation work for their country.

    I understand. It must be difficult for them to have achieved high education, be able to quote clever writers, yet for the chavs to defy them and exhibit higher IQ and savvy. It can’t be good for the self image nor the ego.

    It must make them want to lose temper, protest rudely and scorch the earth. Something the Leavers have never actually done, for all the hype.

    • Chris
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Trump is a true great because of his guts and courage at taking on the liberal left. They are a mean enemy who stop at nothing, I believe. Certainly that seems to be the evidence so far. Farage is of similar ilk.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Last night on the Sky press review one of them was close to tears with her anger and frustration. She almost captured my sympathy for her distress, but I think that maybe it is still a bit soon for that when so many of them continue to be really nasty and will not accept the result of either the UK referendum or the US election.

  10. Stephen Berry
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    As far as foreign policy goes, Trump wants to end the dangerous sabre-rattling with Russia and the costly nation building wars in the Middle East. Given that Western sabre-rattling without the American sabre is merely ridiculous and that America bears 90 per cent of the cost of these Middle Eastern interventions, it’s fairly clear the UK will have to go along with this new direction for foreign policy. Trump thinks it’s crazy for the US to get involved with a war for the Ukraine. He’s right. It would be even crazier for the UK.

    It seems that the US President is ideologically opposed to the EU. This is welcome and a factor the EU leaders will have to keep in mind during their negotiations with the UK, a trump Mrs May could use at a later date.

    To cut and simplify taxes and regulations is a good thing – full stop. Mrs May should be doing it now. The US President can also set a good example by abolishing or toning down many of the economically punishing Global Warming measures. Again, Mrs May would do well to emulate.

    The major bad news from Trump is protectionism. The point is not to prevent American consumers from getting cheaper goods from Mexico. It is to ascertain why new jobs are not being created in the US to satisfy the demand created from the extra money Americans would then have in their pockets.

  11. ian wragg
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    There’s just a small problem John, despite the threat from Islamic terrorists and a potential new cold war spurred on by EU territorial ambitions, we have no armed forces left to retaliate.
    In 2010 Cameron cheered on by the odious Clegg smashed our armed forces so we could join an integrated EU force.
    The people have roundly rejected that and now we have no ships or aircraft worth speaking of and we buy armoured cars from Spain.
    Not a very pleasant legacy from a so called Conservative administration.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      ian

      Agree absolutely with your comments.

      We did not even have the common sense to employ those service men and women who were made redundant, to work in our so called border force.

      Not enough ships to even police the channel properly, not enough serviceable combat or search and find aircraft.

      • Hope
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Enough money if you cut the £14 billion overseas aid!

  12. John Finn
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The BBC are reporting Theresa May’s visit and the warm reception she received through gritted teeth, so it’s looking quite promising so far.

    • Beecee
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      It was embarrassing to listen to the biased questions asked by Laura Kuenssberg.

      Who at the BBC authorised this attempt to undermine Mrs May?

      Disgraceful!

  13. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Immigration…its nice to be nice? What shows is a complete misunderstanding of the wide spectrum of problems that invasion brings. Trump has a handle on it because he knows it from the southern border…who could miss it for so long? A reversal effort starts now, but it requires hard and long determination to execute.

    Its all about very costly flip flopping. We experience misery and so do the invaders and its those that should be fighting for their countries…not us!

  14. Mark B
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    We have been presented with a truly golden opportunity in the for of President Trump. The fact the PM is the first Western Politician to visit the new POTUS is very significant and clear statement on whose side the new POTUS is on. I wonder if the change in attitude of some of the EU politicians and Commissioners is a realisation of this and a possible desire to align themselves more closely with the UK in the hope of gaining favour and influence with the new POTUS via the UK ? Clearly Chancellor Merkel is not in the frame having committed yet another political and diplomatic gaff by not contacting the new POTUS to congratulate him on his appointment but just releasing a simple worded statement. Like much else with this politicain this will come back to haunt her.

    I just sincerely hope that both the political class and the Civil Service make the most of our new found power and influence within the EU ?

  15. Christopher Hudson
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Can somebody tell Theresa May not to patronise Donald Trump and try and tell him what he should or shouldn’t be doing because that is not how she should be speaking to him. She should humbly suggest things. This is a man in charge of 11 aircraft carrier battle groups.

    • Chris
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Completely agree, CH. There is apparently great arrogance in May’s thinking/entourage. It is she who has to learn the lessons from Trump, I believe, and they are many.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        I think at least part of the British Establishment is still under the old illusion/delusion that the Brits are the Greeks to the Americans Romans ie unsophisticated colonials.

  16. Antisthenes
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    The bust of Churchill being returned to the Oval office that Obama out of pique for all things British removed augers well for future USA UK relations. A more sensible and practical approach to foreign affairs is needed after the sad lack of it under Obama. Immigration needs to be brought under control and managed so that it does not benefit just one section of society especially as doing so disadvantages other sections of society.

    Good relations with Russia and China are pivotal to ensuring peace in the world, increasing prosperity through trade and the suppression of terrorism. Ethical and political differences have for too long influenced the West’s diplomatic approach on the basis that the West’s are superior. That arrogance has to be tempered to encourage the West, China and Russia to work together to make the world a better less dangerous place. No doubt cooperation instead of confrontation will make Western thinking more acceptable and the more despicable regimes less of a threat.

  17. The Prangwizard
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I’ve read Mrs May’s speech courtesy of Guido. I’ll need to read it again and absorb it but I can see how it went down well with its audience.

    And very flattering too on how successful the US has become on buying up our economy. Mrs May seems to think its a success story. It may be for the US but where does our independence and any semblance of our national identity fit into it?

    With Mr Trump’s ‘America First’, seemingly supported by her how do we increase exports of products made by UK owned businesses and protect our own economic sovereignty. She seems to have bought in fully to Mr Redwood’s belief in an inward investment policy which means that our economy in general, our businesses, and all of our assets are for sale.

    We are already frightening under US power and influence and she and others seems entirely happy for it to increase. How will it be possible to claim to have political freedom under such circumstances?

    Do we leave the EU only to throw ourselves in further subservience and supplication to the US?

    • matthu
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

      We will also have freedom to establish beneficial trading relationships with Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India, China, Brazil … that’s the joy of being our own masters.

      May has also indicated that no longer will we be trying to impose our own value system (law, democracy, morals etc.) on foreign countries … so that must be a good thing too perhaps.

      Trump has indicated he inclines towards peaceful co-existence rather than always being on the lookout for the next foreign ruler to be overthrown … so that must be a good thing too?

      So, altogether not too hard to think up positives once we are freed of the yoke of the EU!

  18. leave won
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Great and very interesting blog today.

  19. alte fritz
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    At this week’s PMQs, Mr Corbyn spoke in anger of Mr Trump’s wish to put America first. Is that not his job? Watching a US interview with Mr Trump this week, he seems very pragmatic. Negotiate bilateral deals and see if they work. If they do not, terminate them and try again.

    We may not always like the way it turns out, but it does not seem unreasonable.

  20. Chris
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Apparently at the GOP Retreat address Theresa May advocated globalism, she said priority must be given to climate change, and finally she apparently said that Islam was a peaceful religion.

    For those reasons, I cannot support her. I fear she is woefully misinformed.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      I fear that she is just woeful

    • matthu
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      Priority *must* be given to climate change.

      We need to understand whether the risk to any individual (in the UK) is greater from (man-made) climate change or from, say, eating too much dark toast or too many Crayola crayons. (And if you child eats more than 18 Crayola crayons a year, for goodness sake don’t let him eat any string or he’ll turn into a candle factory!)

      And if we are told that climate poses the greater risk, we need to see the evidence that suggests that we can lessen that risk, because all the evidence since the turn of the century seems to negate that proposition.

      So instead of taking politically biased scientists at face value, let’s ask to see the evidence. let’s not pretend that the debate is settled: let’s re-open the debate and discover whether it IS actually worthwhile crippling our energy supply, killing our largest birds and destroying our most beautiful landscapes.

      That’s is presumably what Trump is proposing to do.

      And if scientists have been mistaken, we should be going after shale gas.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 12:03 am | Permalink

      Chris

      I can only suggest you google the speech and listen to it, I thought it was quite well crafted

  21. Into the valley..
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    JR please send an urgent message to Mrs May before she delivers any more speeches to email you with a copy of the speech and allow you to give it the once over. Having read, re-read, so many times your blogs and comments to them , I find it impossible to believe you could not be of service.

    US politicians are used to British frankness, for want of a better word, but their people are made of flesh and blood, have emotions. The best of them have done military service. President Trump, although sounding severe or very nasty in tone or even in detail in what he says, is military-precision jigsawed into their military own experience ( rather than code… (!) ). Many of them, many who never vote, thought it their DUTY to vote for him!

  22. ian
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    With banks threatening to withdraw support for links atm, is this the start of war on cash in the uk.

    • matthu
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      This was always the plan.

      If you control the flow of money, you can prevent leakage of tax revenue. Unfortunately, you also throw an awful lot of pensioners, people with learning disabilities, and the jobless, permanently on the scrap heap.

  23. Mark
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Excellent speech. Congratulations to the Washington embassy for securing May’s position as the first leader to visit Trump, and I suspect for some of the speech ideas. By setting the mood and topics of debate before the EU can even get started, May has also gained some useful Brexit negotiating levers. Perhaps Darroch learned how their noses might be tweaked while he was UKREP. Ideas for reform of the UN, NATO, IMF etc. can only contrast with lack of reform inside the EU. Much sense, although perhaps May will learn that “climate change” is now likely to endure some proper scientific scrutiny, and perhaps be found not to be quite the political imperative she believes it is. The recasting of foreign policy following the excessive interventions of the Blair/Bush Jr./Obama/Cameron era has to be very good news.

  24. ian
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Obama officially the worst US president for growth in the USA history, not one single year above 3.0 percent for whole eight years, trillions of dollars printed and interest rates at 0% for most of the eight years, leaves office with 1.9 percent growth in the last quarter.

  25. Owl
    Posted January 28, 2017 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    More resignations of senior Labour figures. No-one has heard or them. Even Corbyn is reported as saying “Who?”

  26. James neill
    Posted January 28, 2017 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    As somebody said before….it’s very early day’s yet…so we’ll just have to wait and see how this trump presidency works out…my own impression is that mr trump ‘speak’ like george dubya before him is all over the place and it won’t be very long before he talks himself into real trouble with one of the big boys..china or russia..and what then?

    As far as building the wall is concerned and a lot of the other stuff like the 20 per cent tax on mexican goods .. this is all pure bunkum and will go absolutely nowhere..so then what are we to really believe?..are we really going to tie ourselves to this unknown for the sake of saving oursrlves from what?.. from the EU?.. It might be far wiser to mark time now and string out our talks with EU until the next US president is place in four years time before making bad deals because we’re just not going to get a good deal from the US if everything smacks of “america first”

  27. norman
    Posted January 28, 2017 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    I wrote to William Hague as Foreign Secretary in March 2013 about Syria – questioning whether we had a mandate to oust Mr Assad, and pointing out the brutal treatment of Christian and other minorities at the hands of some of the so-called rebels the West was supporting. It seems I was right after all.

    • getahead
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      You were never wrong Norman.

  28. Mick
    Posted January 28, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/759838/Donald-Trump-Theresa-May-BBC-question-US-UK-relationship
    The BBC should be banned from all press meetings that involve Brexit or the USA , if there is any such press meeting this Kuenssberg woman should be ignored every time

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Mick

      Typical BBC think, negative questions yet again, do they not have any positive thoughts about our Country at all ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Trump’s response was superb.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Ms Kuenssberg clearly tried to make news rather than report it. She may well have damaged our relationship with the new President.

      • zorro
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        He will have been well briefed about Ms K….

        zorro

      • rose
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think so. He has exactly the same problem over there which is why he tweets. They HATE that because they can’t tamper with it.

  29. rose
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Very sad to see Mrs May bowing the knee to media hysteria and demands that she tell the US president how to run his immigration policy. I wish he had been telling her how to run ours.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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