Enough Covid already! - let's get back to the day job.
It's very hard to read the Brexit negotiations right now, being on the ordinary punters' side of the dense and acrid battlefield smokescreens emitted by the spin operations of both sides. Several of the 'liberal' meejah seem to have concluded over the weekend that of course a deal is about to be done. For weeks, the Telegraph has been heaving with industry lobbyists stressing that No Deal is suicidal, with lurid images of anarchy at the ports, famine across the nation, and the Royal Navy sinking French trawlers. Feeding into this, the EC smokescreen includes a revealing "compromise proposal": we'll give you 6 months' relief on your anarchy & famine, in return for perpetual lockstep on regulations and state aid. (The classic EC tactic - always offer a strictly time-limited concession, after which it'll be 100% what they want - recall the "emergency handbrake" they offered Cameron. Thanks, but no banana.) The Boris smokescreen, by contrast, is along the lines of Belloc:
The stocks are sold; the Press is squared: The Middle Class is quite prepared ...
(Oh, and nobody seems much to care, or even notice, that the Irish question has been quietly *solved*.)
So – what do we envisage as our fate in post-Brexit 2021? You don’t need an unusual degree of imagination to conjure up dire and all-too-plausible scenarios: but it seems to me there are some big overarching positives out there.
- As noted before, the UK is genuinely very flexible in the teeth of big change (but no, let’s not rehearse the previous post), particularly vs the EC
- HMG is willing to prime the pump quite dramatically
- Adding those two together: any prospect of a period of (relative) stability is likely to encourage a burst of pent-up investment
- Though I realise the EC’s speciality is always delaying and never letting go, when the Brexit thing is behind us we have a government with a very workable majority, and a Civil Service busting (as they were in January) to get stuck into a sustained period of coherent policy-making and delivery
It'll be whatever Boris wants, really, and if it’s a massive Keynsian splurge on the Red Wall, as seems to be the plan**, that’ll suit the bill nicely from Whitehall’s POV. People who say he doesn't know what he wants are only partly correct: his Mayoral stint shows that in default of anything more inspired, he's happy enough to go for build build build.
A bit early for the annual Detailed Predictions compo: but - what do we all expect next year?
**See today's Energy White Paper, for example, of which more anon