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Brexit Bulletin: It’s an addiction Doc, but I don’t need help!

 

Before we wade into this week’s column, hats off to Michael Gove for admitting he has taken cocaine; there will be no cheap jokes at his expense, after all anyone that can offer a shot in the arm to politics isn’t to be sniffed at!  (Oh dear……Ed)

 

Because when the smack begins to flow, I really don’t care anymore….1

But the Tories do care, and they are hooked, only their drug of choice is Brexit; when you listen to the reasons that the front-runners are giving for their respective Brexit strategies, their obvious concern is not the interest of the country but of a narrow party-political calculation.

Perhaps best summed up by Boris Johnson in a Sunday Times interview: ‘The lesson from [the] Peterborough [byelection] is that we must get Brexit done by 31 October or we face the real risk of a Jeremy Corbyn government.’

Other candidate such as Hunt and Gove are similar, saying that a no-confidence vote followed by a general election ‘puts into Downing Street the most left-wing, the most dangerous leader of the Labour party we’ve ever had in our lifetimes’.

In conclusion the Tories are doing what they always do, desperately clinging to power in their own self-interest.

In conclusion the Tories are doing what they always do, desperately clinging to power in their own self-interest

And what of us, the poor bloody infantry? Well, frankly not much, it’s just tax cuts that will help the minority.

Perhaps the most callous example is good old Boris, added to the macho posturing of refusing to pay our £39bn debt to the European Union, making Britain a rogue state, he is proposing to cuts tax for the 3 million best-off, raising the 40% threshold from £50,000 to £80,000.

The IFS says’ this will especially benefit rich pensioners – and costs £9.6bn – yet Johnson proclaims: ‘I am a One Nation Conservative!’

He recently called for cuts to stamp duty and capital gains too – bonanzas for the well off. His promise of £5,000 for every pupil exploded as it turned out to add just 0.1% to the schools budget.

The reality for the majority of the population is very different:

  • There are 100,000 unfilled vacancies for overstressed NHS staff
  • With 2 million more people on hospital waiting lists.
  • Aftercare? There are 1.4 million fewer people getting any social care, due to local councils stripped of half their funds.
  • Children are going hungry as the threshold for free school meals has risen.
  • Pay has stagnated, and incomes still haven’t caught up with a decade ago, unknown since Napoleonic times.
  • Four in 10 children are living in poverty, the highest proportion for 60 years.
  • There are now 2,000 food banks catering for a million hungry families.
  • Schools have lost funds of 8% per pupil, with sixth forms and colleges cut by 16%,
  • For the first time in our lives, longevity is falling not rising
  • infant mortality has risen for the past two years
  • The number of children in care has doubled,
  • The number of rough sleepers huddled against hospital walls: sure enough, he checks to find them up by 250%.

But the good news is that there are twice as many billionaires as a

the rich get richer and the poor simply multiply

decade ago, and 30% have avoided tax by keeping their cash offshore. Now that’s what I call Conservatism, the rich get richer and the poor simply multiply. They want to take us back to Victorian times and congratulations, they have succeeded.

‘Talking ’bout Monroe and walking on Snow White, New York’s a go-go, and everything tastes right’ 2

And over in much scorned continental Europe they have been having their say on the prospective Tory candidates, “People in Brussels are fed up that the political class in the UK has gone a little bit crazy,”. Some wonderful comments though:

  • Boris is seen as a Trumpian figure whose disputed claims and bombastic rhetoric played a major role in plunging the UK into what is seen in Brussels as the Brexit nightmare
  • The EU’s most senior civil servant, Martin Selmayr, once described a Johnson premiership as a “horror scenario”, classing him with Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump.
  • On Dominic Raab; “He was seen to be working against his prime minister and making things up,” the first EU source said.

And EU officials think, quite correctly, that since the rebirth of Farage and his cronies that the Tories will seek to take the high ground and push for a hard, No Deal, Brexit.

Many are now saying that President Macron was right and that we should not have been given a long extension.

if you want to go, then just go

The message seems now to be if you want to go, then just go. They are making it clear nothing will change, no amount of negotiations will see a deal better than that achieved by Mrs May, it’s now take it or leave…

Despite this, Boris, on launching his leadership campaign, said he believed the government ‘must do better than the current withdrawal agreement rejected three times by parliament’.

‘I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome, I don’t think we can end up with any such thing. But it is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously,’ he went on. What he really means is it’s No Deal but I don’t want to admit that just yet!

He continued saying, ‘It’s only if we have the guts and the courage to get ready for it that we will carry any conviction in Brussels and get the deal we need. Delay means defeat, delay means Corbyn, kick the can again and we kick the bucket.’

What he really means is it’s No Deal but I don’t want to admit that just yet!

He did stop short of saying the survival of the Conservative party depended on us leaving the EU by 31/10, but that’s the inference. I find it wonderfully reassuring to know that party comes before country

Interestingly, whilst the emphasis is still on Brexit the message has changed, it’s no longer about all the wonderful things that will happen post-Brexit, it’s just a case of getting it done.

And, it would appear that nothing is too much; McVey has joined Raab in being prepared to dissolve parliament if it dares to stand in the way of their dream.

The Tories seem to be trapped between the need to complete Brexit to compete with Farage, and a dreadful realisation that doing so would be akin to madness, exactly what UKIP did to the party when Cameron was leader.

It’s as if there is a force dragging them towards the abyss, they know it’s stupid but they can’t help themselves.

they know it’s stupid but they can’t help themselves

And, speaking of can’t help themselves, lets finish on those patriotic lads that follow the England football team.

They were out in-force in Portugal last week, arms-spread, bedecked in St George’s Cross vest, like a latter-day knight on the crusades. Singing songs about bombers they never flew, about Ireland and the Pope, and reliving those days when we stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany. All in all, a ringing endorsement for the country.

Of course, dear old Tommy Robinson, dressed in a camouflage jacket on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings was there, and, as ever, up for the fight in every sense.

His presence is a political act, unfortunately one that works, with reports of England fans chanting his name. Their chose of symbols strikes another missed chord, the poppy, a symbol of remembrance has become a statement of patriotism, Agincourt is even referenced!

As this column wrote last week, the Brexit movement has long since been co-opted around England football fans, not the true fans but for those who see it as a political thing, in their EDL shirts saluting Tommy

So, there we have it, folks. Prospective leaders who want Brexit for Brexit sake, with policies seductive to the rich, no TV for the pensioners, and England football fans desperate to relive WW2.

Maybe Gove was right after all, perhaps happiness isn’t to be sniffed at?

‘A taste of something warm and sweet That shivers your bones and rises to your heat’ 3

 

OK lyric spotters, given the subject matter, we were always going to head off to some dark places this week and without coming over all Paul O’Grady, so to speak, its another fascinating triple; some old favourites in terms of the acts, but maybe some less well known tracks. Unless you know them, of course.

1 First off the rank is Philip’s old favourites, the Velvet Underground, but with the angry and angsty ‘Heroin’; a cracking track that leaves you in little doubt that Lou was well acquainted with the subject matter.

2 Next up, lyric spotters expecting a bit of the Thin White Duke, will not be disappointed, and ‘The Jean Genie’ is probably the one that will reward you with points, and we know what that means. Yup, sweet Felicity Arkwright.

3 Bringing up the rear, the excellent Jesus and Mary Chain with ‘Some Candy’; listening to this corker suggests it was not penned in celebration of the Haribo. Enjoy!

 

Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

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