It was the centrepiece of his presidential campaign. From Asia to Africa, Europe to South America, everyone knew that Donald J Trump would build a wall on the border with Mexico if he became president of the US.

The world laughed, but he was adamant. His supporters lapped it up. “Build That Wall!” they chanted at rallies. They cheered even louder when he told them there was a sweetener: American taxpayers would not have to pay a cent for it.

“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall,” he said in June 2015. He became so enamoured of his wall he decided that it would get a name. So in August 2015 he declared: “I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they’ll call it The Trump Wall.” The irony in all this talk of a wall was that he hadn’t actually ever thought of building a wall. It wasn’t a core belief or an old idea of his. The New York Times recently explained it: “His political advisers landed on the idea of a border wall as a mnemonic device of sorts, a way to make sure their candidate — who hated reading from a script but loved boasting about himself and his talents as a builder — would remember to talk about getting tough on immigration, which was to be a signature issue in his nascent campaign. “How do we get him to continue to talk ab...

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