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Brexit, Trump, gold and war: how it all fits together

Article 50 has been triggered, Donald Trump has suffered a setback in Congress, and the gold price is up. Is there a connection?

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Goodbye honeymoon period, hello Brexit

It was a week of Brexit, of Donald Trump, of uncertainty in the mining markets and of a rising gold price. Are these things connected? – you bet!

The invoking of Article 50 by Theresa May was widely trailed and came as no surprise to anyone - the days of unscripted politics not carefully-staged managed by PRs were short-lived it seems, and Jeremy Corbyn is disappearing without trace

So, Brexit it is, and on we go.

Doomsayers talk of the untold damage that will be done to UK economic and political interests, while the Daily Mail, having broadly got its way, has preferred to focus on the  aesthetics of Theresa May’s and Nicola Sturgeon’s legs relative to each other.

It’s symptomatic of the disarray of the liberal left across the English-speaking world that on the day, this Daily Mail headline caused more fuss than Brexit itself and was actually reported more widely, globally.

Because ironically, the UK economy may have taken its biggest hit already with the drop in sterling, so from here the news might actually improve.

Brexit's impact on global markets, at least in terms of value, is also likely to be muted. Global GDP will largely be unmoved.

The EU will obviously have to adjust its numbers for the loss of Britain as a member, but may find now that integration is easier to manage now and that closer economic alignment reaps benefits not yet widely foreseen.

Without Britain as a counterweight to Germany, Germany can take proper control and start to create the real economic powerhouse the European Union was always supposed to be. It could also start to flex its military and political muscles in more effective fashion.

So, Lord Heseltine’s statement that Brexit has allowed Germany to win World War 2, three generations on, will come true, and the Sun and the Daily Mail will have to think carefully about what headlines to write in a Europe once again completely dominated by “Krauts”/ “squareheads”/ “Jerries” / “Huns” [delete as appropriate].

But that was always going to happen. The reasons those wars were fought was because Britain’s hold on the world as the global hegemonic power was weakening, and other powers thought they could stick an oar or two in.

Back then, they reckoned without the last gasp of British Imperial strength and without American power.

But American power too is on the wane now. There, the politicians and government is turning in on itself in a way not seen since the Civil War in the nineteenth century. And unlike the UK, which has already finished with its brief flirtation with populism, as the eclipse of UKIP and Corbyn is beginning to show, the US remains in the grip of unscripted politics.

Late night talk show hosts had a field day this week after Donald Trump told Twitter followers in advance to watch a TV show  that then called for the sacking of Paul Ryan.

Ryan is supposed to be Trump’s key ally in Congress, a key pillar in a continuously wavering Republican support base and if he gets sacked the prospects for well-oiled government look bleak.

Could it be that Trump will be a lame-duck President not in his last days of office, as is the traditional pattern in US politics, but in his first days?

“Healthcare was the first test of Trump’s supposed deal-making skills and it went up in flames,” said talk show host Seth Myers, summing it up succinctly.

And it’s not only at home. The Middle East is very likely to become to the 21st Century what the Balkans were to the nineteenth and early part of the 21st Century, and the US abdication of power there is becoming more apparent by the day.

On the one hand the US administration has to explain why its own airstrikes are killing hundreds of civilians when that’s supposed to be something only the less competent and more sinister Russians do.

On the other, the Trump administration is also now arguing that it may be better for President Assad to be left in power. That may be realpolitik, but it’s also goes towards creating a screen under which disengagement can continue.

In this context the rise of Germany as the dominant force inside the EU, its winning of World War 2 - a la Heseltine - assumes a new slant. Will the Germans at last be able to project real power beyond the borders of Central Europe?

The world will be a more interesting and perhaps even a safer place if they can. But in a world dominated by the likes of Mr Erdogan and Mr Putin, don’t bank on it. 

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