Tuesday 3 December 2019 4:39 am

Should Tory strategists be nervous now Donald Trump is in town?

Ben Rich is chief executive of Radix, the think tank for the radical centre.
Alex Deane

Should Tory strategists be nervous now Donald Trump is in town?

Ben Rich, chief executive of the think tank Radix, says YES.

Of course they should be nervous. With nine days to go, the Conservatives have got everything to lose and little to gain.

The Tory strategists have worked hard to minimise the opportunities for spontaneity in the campaign, keeping Boris Johnson away from the public, his opponents, and the BBC’s Andrew Neil. So the introduction of another utterly unpredictable moving part is certainly a cause for concern.

Add in Donald Trump’s support for Johnson, the unpopularity of the US President with the British electorate, and his tone deafness about NHS privatisation, and he could accidentally toss a grenade into an otherwise carefully controlled campaign.

The trouble with Trump is that the only predictable thing about him is his unpredictability. He could easily endorse Nigel Farage as foreign secretary, tweet that any US trade deal must include the NHS, or simply admire Johnson’s taste in “girls” (sic).

Still, CCHQ will at least be relieved by the sense that voters have already discounted Johnson’s Trump-like traits and closeness to the President — not because they don’t worry us, but because Jeremy Corbyn still looks worse. Oh for a better, different choice.

Alex Deane, a Conservative commentator, says NO.

Donald Trump is not here for a UK-US summit or state visit — it’s a Nato meeting.

The President’s emphasis will be the same as during any of his previous Nato encounters: making the point that the majority of the alliance’s members do not pay their way in defence. Most EU countries will, once again, be told that they let others subsidise their security and that they’re biting the hand that freed them.

The Trump-Boris discussion will be secondary, and will serve only to reinforce what people already think. Those who wish us to be close to the most important, wealthiest and powerful nation in the world will take heart from our Prime Minister’s positive relationship with their President — but already knew it. Those who love nothing more than Trump bashing will bash some more, but their view was already baked in to the BoJo buy price.

No nervousness required. And as an added bonus, Jeremy Corbyn’s longstanding hostility to Nato contributes to the message that he’s weak on security.

Main image credit: Getty

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