Brexit Clown Car Now A ClusterTruck

The satirical puppet show, Spitting Image, will soon be back on our screens after a 24 year break. It might struggle. The daily reality comedy show from Westminster surely can’t be trumped. Can a puppet really compete with the awfulness of Michael Govern Oven Ready, Dinghy Patel, Mark ne-Francois-pas, Lord Rayling of Failing or Jacob Rees-Mogg, Honourable Member for the 18th Century? These are just the minor characters but often they steal the show.

I thought the Secretary for Health, Matt Hancock, would this week. When challenged by Sky News’ Kay Burley about newly appointed trade envoy Tony Abbot and his track record of misogyny and homophopia in Australian politics, the quick-thinking Matt was able to play defence with “but he’s good on trade”. Hold that gong. Enter Boris Johnson and his Svengali of Barnard Castle, Dominic Cummings with their latest Brexit wheeze.

The UK Prime Minister and signatory to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is now claiming this international treaty is “contradictory” on Northern Ireland and “never made sense”. Incredibly, Boris Johnson is the very same man who negotiated the deal, signed it, prevented parliamentary scrutiny of it, campaigned and won an election on the back of it. Who needs Spitting Image? Well, possibly the financial markets. International providers of capital are not amused. There is extreme unease about a government going rogue and conceding they are breaking international law. No wonder the kingdom’s top legal civil servant, Jonathan Jones, has just quit. He’s not alone. Check out the following stories of UK fright and flight….

Global Factory Growth Hits 21-month High; FTSE 100 Hits 3 month Low – The Guardian

Pound Could Fall To Parity With Euro – Dow Jones

So, those are equity and foreign exchange traders running for the exits. UK debt markets remain stable but there’s another risk emerging in the financial world. This snippet from an article in the FT caught our eye this week:

Global regulatory body to harmonise ‘plethora’ of ESG standards

The huge rise in popularity of funds that invest according to environmental, social and governance principles over the past decade has led asset managers to ask for more information on sustainability risks from their investee companies. This has given rise to a wide range of initiatives aimed at defining disclosure standards, such as the voluntary Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

One might think sustainability risks are not exactly relevant to Brexit. However, ESG scoring frameworks will ultimately look at the risk profile of individual countries where the rule-of-law (or absence of same) can impact a company’s ability to meet Social and Governance commitments. Now think about the latest noises from Westminster where Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, has just astonished MPs with an admission that plans to reinterpret the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement “does break international law in a very specific and limited way.” Well, that’s alright then.

If it were not so serious it would be comedy gold. Expect tough days ahead for puppets, satire and the rest of us.

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