We are now a touch over fifteen months away from leaving the EU - technically. There will, of course, be some sort of transitional phase - either up to the end of December, 2020 when the EU’s budgetary period concludes or even longer if the British government wangle extra time out of the EU. During that transitional phase there won’t be much evident change to how things have been for the last forty or so years except we won’t be allowed to have any input into decisions, budgets or anything else - we’ll be ‘out’ but still ‘in’ as far as the cost of membership is concerned. What a wonderful deal that sounds like. The government will continue to argue that the transition is important for business decisions and changes to be made but I might counter comment that without clarity upon the terms of Britain’s exit business will remain as clueless as ever all the way up to March, 2019. So what could have been a vital preparatory period for business following on from the 2016 referendum has been effectively lost because the government have not revealed either their plans (do they actually have any ?) or their objectives - and in this deafening silence, the business that seems oh so important to them has been left swimming around in circles and unable to make strategic plans of its own. I really do hope there has been some miraculous revelation amongst the cabinet over Christmas about buckling down to this enormous task and discarding any further ideas about political grandstanding and claiming spurious achievement where there has been precious little to substantiate it.
Yet despite this there is, perhaps, some light at the end of the tunnel. The Germans are now openly talking about a smart deal with Britain being used as a blueprint for making other deals with ‘new’ but not directly included, associate partners to the EU - among them, Turkey and the Ukraine. An interesting concept but one that will be aired in the EU because it comes from Germany. If this idea gains traction, and depending upon the nature and terms of any resolution, then the EU may feel it beneficial to create a balanced and acceptable deal with Britain rather than obstructing every move prior to departure. That’s something of a leap of faith as this is a very embryonic idea coming out of Germany as yet and nobody really knows quite what the wider EU may make of it. But it would be an opportunity for the EU to change its tack with Britain, not for it to lose face by showing significant relaxations of position but rather arguing that the deal they do with Britain isn’t for Britain’s sake but for the EU to expand its territorial, economic and political influence further east. Such a manoeuvre would give the EU the best of all outcomes - a workable trade deal with Britain (which EU businesses need), and a model for drawing countries like Turkey and Ukraine into the fold - not fully but in terms of trading partnership and shared economic burden. We’ll all have to wait and see what happens here but it’s an interesting start to the New Year ahead.
As usual at this time of the year we get our church fraternity going public on their views of the world (and I distinguish ‘church’ as being entirely separate to those of us who hold a ‘faith’). Populist leaders are deceitful it seems ! Did we really need our most senior churchman to declare this to us ? If we look broadly at the worlds leadership today and even over past centuries, what do we see - deceit ! It is in the very DNA of those that seek political and military dictator leadership roles that deceit is something of a precondition to getting to that position in the first place, so having our church people come out and isolate populist leaders is something of an over simplification. After all, why do we have populist leaders....er, could it be they are popular ? And why are such people popular ? Because, dear archbishop, they represent something different to the ineffective and orthodox leadership we have had foist upon us for generations. The US is a classic example of that. Yet I agree that they are probably as deceitful as anyone else. Now where do you want to take your argument next, dear archbishop ?
Also, as usual, we have a vocal politically correct brigade jumping up and down in their righteousness about an absurd story. It seems that poor old Lewis Hamilton made a private family remark that boys shouldn’t be wearing princess dresses ! Now this is earth shattering stuff and I find it hard to comprehend the backlash of opinion that appears to be swamping the so called social media airwaves (I confess that I’m not a participant in such social media so I have relied - perhaps dangerously - on third hand reports...). We have people demanding apologies, people demanding public pillorying, people demanding pennance, people demanding he should have his MBE taken off him, his F1 title forfeited and so on and on the tripe continues. As a nation we really do need to get a grip and stop all this fannying around with politically correct ideologies - for that is what they are - and return to being the nation of free speech, free thought and free ideals. That is what we have fought countless wars to accomplish over the centuries and not for that sacrifice to have been subsumed by overly pompous and righteous groups and individuals who cannot see further than the end of their indignant noses. Let’s stop it, and stop it now and gain a sense of proportion, tolerance and, dare I suggest humour, into our lives. No wonder we have populist leaders coming to the fore !
Enough for today.