Bernard Ingham: Trump is a wild card but we must gamble on him

What should President-elect Trump#s foreign policy priorities be?
What should President-elect Trump#s foreign policy priorities be?
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AS this may be my last New Year epistle to Eboracum – well, you never know in my pill-rattling old age – I shall try to be cheerful.

God alone knows what there is to be cheerful about as 2017 approaches. If you can find any good in Vladimir Putin, President Assad of Syria and assorted Islamic terrorists around the world, you are a better Christian than me. The lot of them should face an international war crimes trial.

So where do we look for hope, if not inspiration? Not the European Union, which is as soft as putty in its own defence. Not Africa. It is packed with money-grubbing tyrants. Certainly not Iran or Saudi Arabia who conduct Sunni/Shia wars by proxy.

The answer my friends, as Bob Dylan would say, is blowing in the wind that ruffles the hair of one Donald Trump. Never in the field of human endeavour has anyone come to world leadership with fewer credentials and more perilous problems. And never has such a man frightened his allies so much en route to the White House.

But he is all we have.

Not even he may yet understand what he needs to do as American president. This is my agenda:

n Persuade Putin that, while the West abhors his annexation of the Crimea, it covets not an inch of his territory.

n Tell Europe that it had better take its defence a damned sight more seriously than it does now; if its fails its people will be the first to suffer.

n Convince the Chinese they would best be occupied concentrating on spreading wealth across their vast country.

n Throw the USA’s diplomatic forces at the Arab world, telling it bluntly that this is the 21st not the 11th century.

n Cut not a penny from the USA’s security budget and join with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, the UK and Europe (if it can summon up the will) in excising the terror from international terrorism.

n Improve America’s race relations while forging a strong economy so that it may carry more weight abroad.

n Never forget the UK is America’s most reliable ally. Theresa May and Boris Johnson will help to produce a better, safer world.

That is enough for Mr Trump to be going on with, always assuming he eliminates his protectionist streak and conducts US finances more responsibly than those in another life, which led to bankruptcy.

And so we approach another year on a wing and a prayer.

At home we are drowning in Brexit. Altogether too much is being made of it. We should not be surprised at the snubbing of Mrs May by EU leaders. It is par for their petty course, which Margaret Thatcher had to run.

We are altogether too indulgent of those anti-democratic elements in our midst who, in seeking to reverse the referendum, are effectively seeking to destroy the UK as an independent nation They have nothing to shout about, given the damage done by the single currency to Southern Europe.

Having failed to scare the living daylights out of the public with “Project Fear”, all they now have to offer are “alternatives” to Brexit and much head-shaking over the complexities of leaving.

There is nothing complicated about it at all. By excluding Mrs May from its councils, it has expelled us. We should expel them and tell them to whistle for the £50bn they are claiming in back-dues. As Mrs May says, we would prefer an early, mature and orderly parting, but it has to be a clean break. No messing about.

We shall remain friends if they behave sensibly and continue to trade with us. If not, they will suffer more than us.

You can understand why the Government is pussyfooting around. They want to minimise risks to the economy. Otherwise, they fear that with a budget deficit of £70bn they will be overwhelmed by a badly-managed NHS, a failing elderly care system, a poorly performing education service and a police force buckling under a crime wave.

It is all very rational. But in difficult times the people need inspiring. Let boldness be the Government’s friend. He (or she) who dares wins. Let’s face the world with the animal spirits of the undaunted Victorians.

I told you I was going to be cheerful.

My guess is that by this time next year things will be looking up, though not for Jeremy Corbyn or the Labour Party. They are irrelevant to the needs of the time as they savage each other.

Happy New Year.