Monday 14 December 2020

2021 and Beyond

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


AndrewZ said...

Lots of spending in those critical "Red Wall" constituencies is probably inevitable. Plus, support for vulnerable business sectors after the end of the Brexit transition period, and all the bills to pay from this year's COVID spending. Tax rises risk stalling the recovery, so that all points to more QE and higher inflation to inflate away some of the debt.

david morris said...

In some ways, we'll be reverting to les √©v√©nements of the mid 19th century : populism and agrarian agitation, bitterly partisan media, some pretty terrible ideas about monetary policy, raging sectional divides, distrust of the major political parties, hostility toward trade — and a general lack of faith in institutions from the state and local levels to the national and international levels. It was ugly and disruptive then & it will be again. In many ways, that ugliness and disruption — and not the brief liberal post 1945 consensus - is normal: the real normal, the normal normal.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any widespread lack of faith in institutions from the state and local levels to the national and international levels, or the hangings would have started months ago.

Elby the Beserk said...

What do I expect?

Civil War II in the USA.

dearieme said...

"anarchy at the ports": won't last long.

"famine across the nation": just call it a War Against Obesity.

"and the Royal Navy sinking French trawlers": excellent.

Old BE said...

The first few weeks of “no deal” will be full of annoyances (a Remoaner friend is worrying about lorries of fresh broccoli), the media will absolutely love all the pictures of queues and vox pops with lorry drivers moaning that they can’t sort the chits out for widgets destined for Portugal or whatever. Vintners shocked - shocked! - that the tariffs on claret have finally been slapped on.

But rather like the great fresh veg shortage of March 2020 and the great testing scandal of whatever week that was (sorry) it will fade. Fast.

Once out of the “transition” we’ll be free to slash corporation tax and attract business from the continent, do lots of “emergency” spending to shore up vulnerable industries, the airports might remember what they are there for and allow us to get broccoli from Kenya and Peru.

I don’t relish “no deal” but if anyone thinks that voters will be punished into running back to the EU begging for a Norway type arrangement then drape me in a Tricolor and call me Valerie.

The strange thing is that the French (for it is they) are worried about “Singapore on Thames” but their actions are more likely to bring it about.

And as NZ is back to being a poster-girl of how to run a country, we should note what they did when their main trading partner suddenly shut them out of their main market.

Old BE said...

On the costs of all this. The coronavirus costs have been crippling, and there will be a lot of Brexit costs too. Allegedly the French and Italians are looking to renege on a chunk of their coronadebts, the Austrians are printing paper money, and so on. The UK of course will be a scene of relative calm amongst this. Inflation is inevitable given the circs but hugely preferable to enormous tax rises. If Boris builds builds builds on the right stuff, though, a bit of investment and inflation might be the jolt we need to get out of the depression we’ve been in for the last 10-12 years.

Scrobs. said...

Looks grim for Biden and his clan in the US, so I suppose the BBC will try and cover it all up, we'll get Covid 19 - Phase 46, when they sneeze, and like Elby says, a bit of local banter among the good people in that troubled country.

If Boris grows at least one more, we shuld be OK, I suppose, as long as Princess Nut Nut doesn't interfere, like Lady Forkbender used to...

Old BE said...

Maybe 2021 will see the UK offering Germany and certain others a new trade area?

Nick Drew said...

@ offering Germany and certain others a new trade area?

Ireland is the obvious one: they must be wetting themselves

if Macron carries through with an energy embargo, they are f****d

Timbo614 said...

Early 2021 will be like all the other forecast total disasters it won't actually be as bad as the press make out.
Later, well, if there is trade to be done & money to be made people or "the market" will find a way. You want lettuce and avocados? You'll be able to get them (not saying at what price mind you) a beamer? Step this way sir.
Onions and garlic? Tell the French they can keep them unless they want to swap for some fish:)

jim said...

Not so much a bang, more a whimper. No sunny uplands, no unicorns dancing.

A slow realisation that Brexit has broken something, nothing works like it used to. Sure, you can still buy a Merc or a Beemer and lettuces and tomatoes, but they all cost a bit more. Nothing you used to do can be relied on, hitches and snags every day.

But worse, Britain becomes a bothersome place to do business. All the rules are a bit different and still being made up. So don't bother, tone down working with Britain, go elsewhere. Expect desperate efforts to restart and attract business - and great success in taking the money and running. Sell off Norfolk to the Chinese will be proposed in desperation and ignored.

Gradually this scenario will become undeniable by the political class. Jingoistic articles in the Telegraph will become laughable, it has already become like Pravda, no truth. After that the glorification of the guilty and moving them all sideways. How we get out of the mess created is a story for 2023.

andrew said...

Undoubtedly, collectively, we will become poorer than if we had stayed in the eu.

But this will not be possible to directly measure. There is no uk that did not leave and so in the short term not many will notice much at all.

Indeed the impact will be uneven. If we really restrict immigration of relatively unskilled workers. There will be a shortage and low rages will tend to rise, reducing inequality.
(Which imo is a good thing)

Yes, some salad will become more expensive but a lot of that stuff come from outside the eu already.

There will be queues and jams and lorry parks. But mostly on the uk side, further underlining the incompetance of the political classes

I may be repeating myself from 2016 but brexit in itself solves none of the uks big problems
- social care
- adult education
- housing costs
- add your own

But does leave westminster with no one to blame apart from themselves when it fails.

E-K said...

I had based my Brexit vote on London's unbeatable position as a place to live, work and to be entertained.

Covid-19 (or rather the reaction to it) has changed all of that somewhat. I blame Remainer May for keeping us trapped in the catflap for so long - I was always anxious that a Black Swan was going to arrive and here it is.

A boarded up Britain is what I see for 2021. Yes. There may be a lot of work going on behind closed doors but it won't feel the same place. Definitely much more socially divided between those able to WFH and those not.

The green targets have not fuelled any optimism (well - taken the fuel out of it, actually !) Just how the hell are we meant to recover with unnecessary rationing, higher expenses, deprivation, restrictions on free movement and choice... and no let up in immigration ?

We did not vote for Greenist Communism but that's what we're getting and in its worst manifestation.

I fear that Boris has throttled the life out of the entrepreneurial side of our town and utterly betrayed those who have conformed (at huge and unrecoverable personal expense) with Covid and Green regulations.

I cannot wait to vote the Tories out of existence. Please factor that people are going to be very angry into any forecasts.

Redistributive taxation is on its way - whether by this government or the next. There is no Thatcher to get us out of this one.

E-K said...

Andrew @ 9.15

Please read Dan Hodges who says that the Brexit vote was a shot at the perceived UK 'ruling class' and not the EU.

He is right.

The strategy was to make Westminster totally accountable. That's what we meant by sovereignty - not just the figurehead on our coins. Sovereignty defines where the buck stops.

E-K said...

NZ poster girl.

Easy enough when you're at the end of the transport line and sparsely populated - yet, with a fraction of our population, they still managed to allow a white gunman rampage in a mosque... something the UK has never done despite untold provocations.

Where's our praise ?

Should the vaccinations be successful and NZ loosens her skirt and jumps back down from the stool... will she be praising us for letting her free ?


Interestingly NZ has taken shocking economic damage (a record drop in GDP) because of CV-19. If her's was the model response then who is to blame for that, I wonder ?

The subject's become a bit of a taboo, hasn't it ?

They haven't interrupted Boris while he's been making mistakes, that's for sure.

Old BE said...

I was not talking about NZ and Covid. I was talking about when the UK pulled up the drawbridge to NZ exports.

On Covid, the UK has managed the one of the worst economic outcomes, with some of the worst death rates alongside some of the harshest restrictions. So yeah I wouldn’t mind being in NZ right now.

Don Cox said...

" the uks big problems
- social care
- adult education
- housing costs
- add your own"

The underlying problem is the huge growth in population.

As for Brexit, it was about not being ruled by French, German and Belgian politicians. A majority were prepared to be less rich if it meant getting the EU off our backs. Nobody thought Brexit would solve all the problems that face every developed country today.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

It really depends on how big a sell-out Boris is vis a vis the EU.

If he's forced into No Deal it could be the best thing in the long run. But .. we have a government which has just instructed the judges to treat black and white differently re prison sentencing, there's a well-funded campaign running to force schools to provide an education that includes zero "gender stereotyping" - I'm sure there's a lot more.

Is Esmee Fairbairn any relation to the great Nicholas? Because if it's socially destructive, her eponymous Foundation funds it. She's a mini-Soros, albeit deceased (killed in WW2) - probably turning in her grave at what her name is used for.I see the money came from M&G.

And on the other side of the culture wars? The great victory that (until Labour get back) you can't castrate/defeminise your 12 year old without a court order!

The EU are either foolish or hostage to Frog and Dago fisherfolk. I'm inclined to think Bojo would sign just about anything if we got our waters back. It's highly symbolic. Of course half our quota is in the hands of Brit registered Dutch and Spanish megatrawlers...

Anonymous said...

E-K - firdt time I've heard of Dsn Hodges being right about anything. He's not the man his mother (Glenda Jackson) was.

E-K said...

Anon 11.36 above - He's been brilliant since his epiphany on Brexit. Now a Leaver, if reluctantly.

Old BE - We wanted to be NZ but were told we were being racist. They have one of the most stringent immigration systems around. But you did say " And as NZ is back to being a poster-girl of how to run a country"

Yes. Low population, strict immigration, respectful of the consensus of what the national characteristics should be, consistent rules and laws...

No can do here.