Blain's Morning Porridge, submitted by Bill Blain of Shard Capital
Shakespeare’s undiscovered Play: “The Tragedy of Boris Johnson”
You have to give the UK credit for doing High Drama extremely well. This is Downton on Speed. George Martin never wrote anything this good for Game of Thrones. Even Shakespeare could not have written it better.
Is this the final act? Brought low by a brother, a fainting policeman, the Iago(s) in the office - Does Birnam Wood now march on high Dunsinane? For foreign readers… I do hope it’s entertaining, because frankly, it’s becoming a complete p*sser for us.
When are we going to get out markets back? Yesterday my phone was swirling with multiple rumours from the Westminster end of town. At one point I was told Labour Whips had agreed to an October 15th Election if the No Vote bill gets royal assent. Then it was an October 29th date agreed between Corbyn and the SNP. Next the rumours were of ministers looking to flee the Boris Bunker, while another senior figure is in the paper saying Boris should readmit the Remoaners he threw out the party earlier this week. Yesterday Boris looked confused and lonely.
The recent rally in the GB Peso looks likely to prove short-lived. Short-term, look for further volatility. Long-term, can we ever get back to stability? How do we get over this and allow the UK economy to grow, sterling to settle, house-prices to rise (a critical factor for UK feelgood), and everyone to start playing nice again?
Well…. Maybe, just maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. It will require some creative destruction and not a few political sacrifices – meaning heads have to roll….
The reason I’m feeling slighty more positive is because - to be brutally honest – for all their good intentions, even the Remainers must soon realise they are wasting their time. They may well be right that Brexit was a really bad idea, but if you were leading Europe would you want the UK to remain a member?
Of course not. Don’t discount the very real possibility Europe refuses an extension past Oct 31st and demands we ***k **f with either the offered deal or no-deal on the agreed date. Macron, et al, are not going to risk the political future of Europe to help out the UK. Whatever the lunatic right or left may tell us, Brussels is fed up to the back teeth with the UK. They are just as keen as Boris that we leave – they don’t want the UK to play any future role in Europe. They have too many other issues to address and solve. The UK is not reliable – if we stay Brexit would continue to fester. We are a canker that must be lopped off. If Britain doesn’t exit now, the EU should throw us out – because Brexit won’t ever go away.
Instead, Remainers would do best to employ their considerable energies on campaigning for the UK to take the best possible deal that’s on offer – which, if Europe plays tough, will pretty much be the one proposed to Theresa May.
And maybe that’s a way out the Brexit labyrinth: Torch the Boris Government and find a very deep ditch to bury him, Mogg, and the rest. Accept Europe letting us leave with the deal, and let the bulk of Labour and Rump Conservative MPs – who are honourable men and women - accept it. We can sort out the Scots later.. The Liberals? C’mon… you can’t fix everything..
The bulk of parliament are - like Boris’ “honourable” and now resigned brother, Jo Johnson - Remainers deep within their souls. They must now accept the inevitable. Maybe the Play could end with Jo Johnson being handed the Crown by an MP who picks it from his brother’s body lying in that ditch of his own choosing. What a finish that would be… Jo goes on to unite the fractured tribes of Albion.. Yeah? It works for me.. (and curiously, makes the tragedy even more moving.. Boris may end up in the ditch, but he will have achieved Brexit.)
Meanwhile… Boris’ rump Tory government is now held hostage by the opposition – trapped in the Boris Bunker. Effectively Jeremy Corbyn can choose when the next election will be held. Why go early? If Corbyn was smart he’d wait, then wait some more. Every day the atmosphere in the Bunker will become more foetid and treacherous.
This is where is might get interesting. If Europe won’t give us an extension, or says something like: “You have till November 31st to Agree the Deal or leave with a No Deal”, then Boris can whimper something about Europe trying to bully the UK.
In such a circumstance Corbyn waits and enables an election post October 31st. That crushes Boris’ first big promise to the electorate – that we were leaving no matter what on Halloween.
Any election will leave Labour facing the question they have so far avoided: what do they want? The Deal offered to Theresa? A new deal they aren’t going to get from Europe? A pointless Second Referendum because we aren’t getting a second chance? Or a No Deal? At that point Labour faces the same problem Boris faced – getting the political sheep to make pragmatic decisions. Good luck to him. We could well get a Part II to this play.
Back on the front lines outside the bunker… Corbyn could well decide to keep Boris in Limbo as long as possible - steadily eroding any “new leader” electoral advantage he held, deepening the festering divisions within the already fractured conservative party and letting their own discord unravel the party. New leaders would arise to replace him – Boris might not even make the election if someone senior mounts an effective coup. Corbyn could use the next few weeks to stir up the Cummings vs the Party discontent, make reassuring noises to the city and announce clever new Labour spending plans. It would give him, the Liberals and SNP the opportunity to carve up the country into anti-Tory tactical voting constituencies. Even Jeremy Corbyn will look electable after Boris spends a few more weeks trapped in his No 10 Bunker.
At the moment the numbers suggest the Tories would be the largest party, but without an overall majority. It’s conceivable Boris could do a deal with Farage and field Brexit Tories across the country. But that would be on a pure No-Deal basis – which may lose as many votes as it gains, and possibly trigger another mass Tory Defection from the Bunker.
Of course, Brussels may decide to deny the UK any extension – telling the UK to take the Backstop Theresa May deal offered last year by October 31st, in which case an October 15th or 29th Election is probably too late… Boris’ head will still end up on a pole, but he’ll have got his No-Deal Brexit… and the rest of us will have to cope with it.
I was going to write about We-Work this morning as a wake up and smell the coffee moment for global stocks.. but that will be just as bad next week!
Have a great weekend.. and off to do the day job.