I have to say the last week or so has been absolutely weird. It wasn’t just the Beast from the East, the snow, TV3 broadcasting the weather from the Castle and waking up in the morning thinking you were in New Hampshire, it was something deeper. Amidst the quiet in snow-bound County Meath, I felt that somehow this was a portend of unpredictable events.
Well let’s just start with Italy. Their elections on Sunday marked a significant move to the Right, but of importance to us is that this also brings to prominence political leaders who are also Eurosceptics. They don’t like Brussels and they ain’t crazy about the way they feel the Germans have dominated the Eurozone. However, it starts to get interesting when it comes to Brexit because they see the U.K. as an important trading partner. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega Party who could well become the next Italian Prime Minister, said of the U.K. that he “very much” hoped that it would “ be possible to maintain completely open trade with the E.U. without any penalties”. Now that is a very different tune from the one that we are hearing from the Commission. Matteo Salvini also said “ Great Britain is a friendly country, with a long tradition of trading with Italy”. Interesting to see whether the Taoiseach would feel comfortable expressing similar sentiments. The more I think about it, the more I see what we share with the Italians. We both got screwed by Europe. We just need to be damn sure it doesn’t happen again.
Moving on I have to state, like many others, my alarm at Donald Trump’s sabre-rattling by imposing tariffs on steel imports to the U.S. The E.U. is apparently going to retaliate with tariffs on a wide range of U.S. imports, like peanut butter. For God’s sake, that is outrageous. Making the delight of a sneaky finger in a jar more expensive is cruel and unusual punishment.
I have just finished reading “Fire & Fury”, Michael Wolff’s excellent book on the Trump White House which gives you a real feel for the craziness of it all. The problem now is that it is becoming like watching car crash T.V. When I heard that Hope Hicks, his Communications Director, had jumped ship, I worried about who was going to get him a Diet Coke. Now with Gary Cohn, his Chief Economic Adviser, joining her, there is a real danger of a trade war.
But seriously folks, how long can this go on ? His son-in-law doing deals in the White House with his security clearance downgraded, Mueller’s investigation tightening the noose, strippers trying to sue, resignation, impeachment. Does it matter.