Halloween for horror enthusiasts has been a little disappointing so far. As another Brexit deadline passes one can’t help noticing the total absence of street riots, Boris’s corpse in a ditch or Mark Francois’s Territorial Army uniform exploding. Brexit must wait for the outcome of a General Election to be held on December 12th. Europe must wait too but is only giving the UK until 31st January 2020. More deadlines, more headlines and more economic damage. This self-mutilation of an entire country feels more “Saw” than Freddie Krueger if one were looking for Hollywood parallels. Now hold that Hollywood thought.
On so many levels Brexit is the gift that keeps on giving for the media, and the Conservative party is definitely the Scream Queen of the franchise. The Conservatives’ occupancy of 10 Downing Street in recent years has delivered two general elections, two leadership elections, two referenda and two Brexit extensions. In keeping with Brexit bizarreness, the bookmakers still see the Conservatives as the best bet to win most seats in the December 12th election and continue as the key protagonist in the Brexit nightmare. This may turn out to be the case but readers might want to consider some new characters and plots which have a very good chance of hitting our screens.
- UK Business:
Apple and Facebook may have delivered excellent results on Wall Street this week but the news from UK bellwethers is more mixed. The UK’s benchmark index of blue-chip stocks, the FTSE 100, is light on technology but weighted heavily towards financial, energy and mining giants. Let’s just say the updates from Lloyds and Royal Dutch Shell this week have been less than stellar. Domestic UK business is already grappling with Brexit paralysis so a global slow down(Hong Kong recession confirmed) will only squeeze margins and investment plans further. Property and business confidence are strongly linked in the UK economy so a RICS survey which found 62% of respondents confirming a downturn in commercial property is not helpful.
- UK Currency:
The removal of a hard Brexit outcome, for now, has stabilised Sterling (GBP). The UK currency reflects the short term views of the financial markets but those relatively benign views can violently shift. Think about how many villainous comebacks occur in a popular horror franchise. Brexit has that same potential to re-introduce Mr. Market as the villain only a decade after the credit crisis.
- Trade Talks:
In the week that saw the publication of The Globalist, a biography of the late great Peter Sutherland, one can only wonder what he would think of Brexiteer trade delusions. As the father of the World Trade Organisation framework and the incredible complexities of trade talks, he could paint a rather scary picture of the post-Brexit free trade discussions. Lots of red lines, lots of blood and lots of time. It will be long and it will be ugly irrespective of Brexit actually happening.
- UK Politics:
Brexit means Brexit. Taking back control. The people’s will. What will be the post-election slogan of the new government? The current narrative is that parliament is broken and an election is needed to clear a path to deliver the wishes expressed in the referendum. A more incendiary line is that the body politic is frustrating the wishes of the people and is the real villain in the Brexit story. On that basis, the chances of a non-conclusive election and a hung parliament could become the ultimate gore-fest. The probabilities of a hung parliament are more than significant in what is effectively a 4 party election voted on a first-past-the-post basis. Those are the classic ingredients for a very volatile vote and outcome. The nightmare scenario of political paralysis, clocks ticking towards EU deadlines, businesses cutting jobs and civil unrest is a combination of events which even a villain like Jigsaw would appreciate.
Back in the real world, we can only hope the least worst results of Brexit materialise and then reflect on a horrible hindsight truth. Hallowe’en began as the Celtic festival of Samhain. How the world must wish David Cameron and his Attorney General had paid more attention to Celtic matters when framing the Brexit referendum question. The Good Friday Agreement eighteen years earlier placed into international law the UK’s commitment to keeping at least one of its borders in the EU. The sad irony of Brexit is that the Conservative and Unionist Party of the United Kingdom has committed to sawing off one of its own limbs. The horror of that, and possibly another Celtic sequel to follow. Bloody tragic.
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