Brexit Uncertainty: ‘Britannia waives the rules’
Uncertainty is seldom as long-lasting and or eye-catching as the current batch being served up by the apparently plot-less situation comedy known as Brexit.
The UK, the rest of Europe, and even the wider world stands on the brink of major change. It has been standing there for a while, it’s still there, and it looks like it will continue standing there for a good while longer. Sitzkrieg indeed.
“Brexit means Brexit!” So says Theresa May. A cracking statement from the hustings, quite brilliantly free of any meaning.
Was the referendum even legally binding? Does it need to be ratified by parliament? Will it get through parliament? So many questions, so many people “taking to Twitter’ to answer them.
The scale of uncertainty is remarkable. The entire existence of the European project is now on the line, as other countries, emboldened by the British, eye their own referenda as existential angst seizes the continent like an anti-establishment/alt.right bear hug.
A summer is a long time in British politics AKA “Cameron who?”
The post-Brexit purge happened swiftly. A short and sharp blood-letting in the ‘Out’ camp took its toll and the government replaced itself, rather smoothly it has to be said, as a new PM took office. Meanwhile in Islington, the opposition immediately fell into a sordid bout of navel-gazing and in-fighting, with a protracted leadership battle that now threatens the very existence of the party. It’s fun to watch, but given the importance of a viable opposition to UK democracy the consequences are far less than humorous.
The economy then took a buffeting as the Pound lost over 10% of its value and the markets declared in one voice that the end of days was here.
But then, something happened: summer! Never underestimate the power of sunshine and warm weather over the sleep, docile and generally decent British people. Six months of anguished debate, wailing and gnashing of teeth, all brought to a juddering halt by weekends at the cricket, picnics in the park, the extended family reunion in Tuscany, and “anyone for tennis?” Set the email to auto-respond and forget it ever happened as Pimms and Vitamin D washed away our collective decision fatigue.
Welcome my old friends “Death and Taxes”
And fast forward, through another Murray victory and thumping China in the medal tables to the very first week of the autumn term. The pound has bounced back, positive retail sales figures give us hope, and a burgeoning services sector grows without apology. The end of the world, as if taking its’ cue from Southern Rail, has been cancelled.
At LaingRose we do not possess a magic crystal ball, alas, and the immediate political and economic future remains a mystery as much to us as to anyone else.
As Ben Franklin (might have) said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Isn’t it great to have some things you can rely on?