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.