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We live in "interesting times"

It is often said that we live in “interesting times” which is an overused euphemism for significant change and turbulence. Unfortunately the current “interesting times” seem to be almost never ending and feel like they are becoming the norm for the UK.

"Martin
Martin Warren

I had hoped to escape the excruciating pain which has accompanied our preparations (if that is the right word) for Brexit by taking our caravan down to the Mediterranean with my family for a relaxing few weeks by the pool and on the beach. Unfortunately not.
Whilst during the day I could enjoy the sun and a good book, the usually light hearted banter over a meal and a few beers was invariably overtaken by an, often heated, argument over Brexit and its’ solutions and consequences. Our friends from Spain and the Netherlands were clearly unable to fathom how we had got ourselves into this position and those of us from the UK were deeply apologetic to them and unable to speak with one voice in trying to explain away the outcome of the vote. So it was almost a relief to return to the UK and to work.

Unfortunately nothing much had changed when I got back. As I predicted back in January, we seem no closer to any clarity over what Brexit will mean for us, our families or our businesses, with only 6 months left to find agreement. The one thing that has happened is that the Government has finally given in to recognizing the potential risk of a “no deal”. So we now have the stockpiling of medicines, the prediction of a house price slump and warnings of travel restrictions to the EU (adversely affecting my next year’s holiday to the continent), sounding alarm bells for all of us. Whether you are a natural pessimist or optimist few of us would want to bet, let alone risk our jobs and businesses, on what the eventual outcome will be. So most of us are playing the short game with all long term decisions, such as investments, put on hold.

It is undoubtedly true that this short termism will have consequences irrespective of how the final deal turns out. Let’s just hope the optimists win through and there is still time to find a workable solution with our European partners so that these “interesting times” cease and we can restore a better norm for the future.

Martin J Warren FCA
Director for the South West
martin.warren@icaew.com