Politically, both sides of the Atlantic are in a fragile state of existence. In Britain, the seemingly ever-present saga of Brexit is at a crunch moment of choice and decision whilst in the US the mid-terms will decide upon whether Americans will continue to tolerate Trumpy's abrasive and hostile form of governance or shackle him so hard that his administration will founder on the rocks.
Brexit, it is said, is almost 95% agreed with the EU. Sounds impressive but the nature of that deal, the real nitty-gritty of what such a deal might commit us all to is completely unknown outside Whitehall. Mrs May says the cabinet will have its chance to scrutinise the deal before any agreement is signed, but then it becomes a fait accompli for parliament to either go along with or reject. As BB reads the runes, that is not what parliament was intending, rather a debate on the terms as averse to a sign-off of something already agreed was their requirement. As usual, the government is manipulating a scenario where parliament will offer no more than a rubber-stamp service to the deal - or - wholeheartedly reject it, at which point a 'no-deal' scenario re-emerges. This is the wrong use of the parliamentary system. They are there to also scrutinise the terms in the interests of their constituents before any final deal is brokered - to override that democratic process is questionable at best and downright deceitful at worst. Yet the government have squandered so much time from the schedule of negotiation that they are now in danger of not getting 'the deal' signed off before the end of the year. The sticking point of the Irish border BB continues to find extraordinary. If the EU want a defined border with the Republic then it is the Irish who should be preparing for it; if they want a continuance of a soft border but wish to prevent EU goods having an easy access into the UK then they need to put the onus again upon the Irish to ensure that no goods from EU origin cross the border which are destined for mainland UK without being subject to whatever tariffs will pertain. In short, the responsibility is not for the UK to resolve this issue, it is for the EU and Ireland to resolve it. Brexit means no customs union and no single market - what is it about that that neither the EU nor British government doesn't understand ?
In 'crazyland' across the Atlantic, old Trumpy is crucially awaiting the results of his mid-term elections which will decide whether Republicans still have control over Congress and Senate alike. Without that, his administration will get its legislative agenda blocked on most of the crucial issues currently on the legislative table - Mexican Wall's, immigration, healthcare, tax breaks and countless others. Trumpy has resorted to scare tactics particularly on the issue of immigration, with the caravan of Central Americans trudging away from their own troubled lands toward the US border. His language has been bleak, effectively saying that America does not want these new migrants, will not accept any and that they will be forcibly repulsed if they try and enter illegally. This is a thorny issue that scopes itself across legal, humanitarian and moral boundaries and there is no easy answer. So, in typical Trumpy fashion, he has made the decision: 'Go away, do not enter, we will shoot if you do !' And this decisiveness appeals to the American psyche, often across the political divide. With Trumpy, the Americans have a president who makes decisions. Whether those decisions are good or bad doesn't seem to factor into whether folk will support him or not - Americans like a forthright guy and especially one who makes the tough decisions for them. With that you might imagine that he would have plain sailing through the polls - we'll have to wait on that one - but Trumpy's style is often one of bluff where he waits until everyone else bends before shifting his stance on what he will do. That creates uncertainty; do folk think he is bluffing or playing for real ? BB suspects that the latter might well capture the popular vote whilst if they thought he was bluffing they might take a more bilateral political position. That is the dangerous position Trumpy has led himself into. Nobody knows for sure what this radical will do next. The next couple of days will reveal all to the world.
And briefly, President Macron is pushing hard for the establishment of a European Army that will replace any deficiencies in the NATO alliance instigated by Trumpy. This would certainly involve Germany having to amend its constitution and allow combat troops to be deployed on foreign soil. That would be a big deal for Germany, so guilt ridden over its 20th Century misdemeanours, and so ingrained in its more recent generations. Yet it may be necessary if the US continues to withdraw from treaties and alliances of old. Macron even declares that the US might well become one of Europe's enemies along with Russia, China and Iran. That is a bold statement but let us not forget that the key battleground in any future conflict will embrace Europe as well - whether we like it or not. For once, I'm sort of in agreement with the French.