So, as expected, the Brexit can has once again been kicked firmly down the road as Parliament found it impossible to decide on precisely no way forwards in any direction on Brexit.
May went to the EU council on April 10th to ask for an extension, and she swiftly got one until October 31st of this year, with the option to leave sooner should Parliament get it’s act together and decide on something. Easter recess finally began for MPs and we now look almost certain to take part in European elections on May 23rd.
Not sure anyone could have written it, but here we are. So what happens now? This is my guess…
I have written in previous posts that delays of various lengths could have very different consequences for companies and the general public when it comes to spending money. A short delay, say of a few weeks with the promise of a definitive end result could have been the start of a process to unlock a huge amount of delayed spending decisions by people and businesses as the country would have finally known what was happening. A delay of a couple of years, as was being mentioned, would have potentially had the same effect as it would have been more than long enough to turn the spending taps back on again for a while.
I have also argued that a medium length delay, say 6-9 months would be a nightmare scenario for business. It’s a short enough time period for companies to hold on to their money as 6 months in the world of business isn’t that long. But it’s not long enough for those who are unsure to start spending again. This is exactly what we have got and I imagine the business community would have been in utter despair at the inaction yet again.
For home owners I think we might see a period of spending, albeit short, as we head into the summer. The days are getting longer, the sun is out and it’s getting warmer. All ingredients which help to open the wallets a bit. 6 months I think is just about long enough for home owners to decide that they cannot wait any longer and their home improvements have to continue. I have noticed at our place that in the last week or so business activity has started to pick up again, so perhaps an early sign of a bit of a boost?
Generally speaking though, 6 months in the grand scheme of things is not all that long, and Halloween will be here sooner than you think if Parliament hasn’t been able to break the deadlock before then.
There is though the prospect of local and Euro elections coming up in May, and the results of those elections could add a whole new element to what is an already biblically complicated situation.
Local elections are being held in the UK on Thursday May 2nd. The opinion polls, if they are to be believed which is risky business these days, show the Tories look to lose control of councils and won’t have a good night. Labour might be able to win a few, but predictions of their success aren’t anything to write home about. There is no new Brexit Party in the local elections, so many are predicting a strong rise of UKIP votes. Given how shambolic the entire political establishment has been in the past few weeks and months, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a protest vote in the form of UKIP is going to be strong. It will send a shock (another one) to Parliament.
However, I think the far bigger event on the horizon is the prospect of the UK taking part in European elections on May 23rd. As you will have seen, Nigel Farage has launched his new party, aptly named the Brexit Party. Love him or hate him, he has the ability to tune in very effectively to a demographic in this country. I think at first no one gave him much attention. But then take a look at the three tweets below, and the current predicted seat outcome…
In the matter of a couple of weeks the Brexit Party has managed to rocket to the head of the pack. You cannot say that this down to a carefully planned set of policies and intentions, the party is only a few weeks old. This is a measure of how pissed off a great deal of the country is and will likely use the European elections, should we take part in them, as a chance to kick the various established institutions in the teeth. If I was a betting person I would be putting a tenner on the Brexit Party to win.
This will rightfully scare both the UK and EU. The idea of a whole bunch of Farage-types in the European Parliament, making life difficult for them is the last thing they need right now. For the UK, both major parties, but more the Tories, will despise the idea of a new party taking root so quickly and being headed up by Nigel Farage. Given the state politics is in right now, if a General Election was to be held, you could bet your own money on them winning seats in Parliament.
That is why the Tories in the coming weeks will be doing as much as they can to avoid having to take part in Euro elections. It would be so massively damaging. Asking the UK to take part in a vote that they were never supposed to. Winding up the leave population even further. It would be a disaster for them.
The threat to the established parties is absolutely massive right now. The threat from start-up parties is growing quickly. In normal times this kind of threat would motivate the established parties to fudge something through and keep the others at arms length. However these are not normal times and I am not sure that the threat of dozens of Brexit Party MEPs would even be enough to force a solution.
If you’re an observer, journalist or historian, what is playing out right now is pure gold. This age in our country will be taught to kids for years to come. If you’re sick of the B-word, unfortunately this is going to go on for a fair bit longer yet. I’d invest in some ear plugs and turn off your devices.
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