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Uncertainty is always bad for business

Let me begin by admitting that I haven’t got the first damned idea as to what actually came out of parliament on Tuesday night. Basically, you buys your tabloid and you takes your choice. The only meaningful speculation to be made in my book is how much of a massacre can be expected when MPs revisit their limited options on Valentine’s Day. There was some heartening news for firms fearing the worst in that the Commons voted against a no-deal outcome. Or did they? That’s the problem. Commerce, manufacturing and the markets are just as confused as anyone else and uncertainty is always bad for business. Sterling fell abruptly after word came through that Brexit wasn’t going on the back burner a

A day in the week

Like Arthur Dent in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I’ve never really managed to get the hang of Thursdays. “I hate ‘em”, my Uncle Reg would say with solemn authority. “They were invented by God just to make the week longer”. You tended to listen to Uncle Reg, even when in later life he also insisted the pigeons in Castle Gardens were fitted with listening devices. The corollary to this is that when the editor said, “We’re shifting your column to Thursdays”, without so much as a kiss my contract, my little world shifted on its fragile axis. Conjecture has it that it was a Thursday in 2013 when David Cameron informed his inner circle of a cunning plan to hold a referendum on EU membershi

Brexit and the bigger picture

Back in my old childhood home, in a hallway drawer, among the school reports and Corgi model cars, you could find a box bearing the name ‘Kerplunk’. According to the makers, it’s a game of strategy. In effect, it’s about players taking turns to make a structure more and more unstable until it finally collapses. My guess is that something very similar will happen in parliament this week. Whilst ‘historic’ is a much over-used term in politics, it’s probably an apt description given the implications of voting down Teresa May’s Brexit deal. Where things get less specific though is in establishing what those implications entail. Everyone has an opinion and a convenient supporting set of facts – a

Should we worry about broken China?

I’ll admit it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, but sitting in on one of those traditional Christmas lectures by a respected economist seemed a good way of slipping gently into the new working year. I’d blagged a late invitation to a private event, enjoying some seasonal hospitality as I settled down to what was expected to be a good humoured address. That’s went it all that went south when he kicked off with, “I know you’re expecting me to talk about Brexit. Well, forget Brexit. Brexit is something we can handle. The real problem is China.” OK, let’s put that it in perspective. As we feverishly stockpile medicines and stress-test customs borders in readiness for a March showdown, China'

More challenges than opportunities in 2019

I’ll start off by wishing you a Happy New Year – but that’s about as positive as it gets as I attempt a series of best guesses on what the next 12 months holds. Here goes: In all things Brexit, the hokey-cokey indications are that its parliament that will be taking back control; after a fashion anyway. May’s package will be rejected but there’s just as much opposition among MPs for the prospect of crashing out of Europe without a deal. As such, they will apply the brakes. It is then only a matter of how much dust is allowed to settle before we have a general election – or a second referendum. I won’t attempt to predict the outcome of either scenario although we can expect both to be messy.

Weekly Column

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