What to Expect in 2018
Questions and concerns circulating around Brexit, Theresa May’s premiership, or Trump’s impeachment will continue to occupy the thoughts of journalists, politicians and economists in the new year.
Theresa May will remain
However, most possibly, when it comes to Theresa May, the government will continue as it is, since, considering the growing popularity of Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservatives will avoid pursuing another election. In addition, according to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which introduced fixed-term elections to the Westminster Parliament, general elections are held every five years, with the first one beginning in 2015. A general election can only be triggered with a vote of no-confidence in the government, or a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament. A vote of no-confidence would mean that the government has 14 days in which it will try to win a vote of confidence, or a general election will be held.
Most importantly, Theresa May was granted the most difficult task, of taking Britain outside the European Union, a job that not many would like, since if it goes badly, they will be the ones to blame.
In an alternate universe, perhaps, business magazine Fortune’s predictions for Theresa May being brought down by Brexit chaos, might come true. We think not. Fortune predicted that due to the sexual harassment scandals in Parliament and Brexit chaos, Jeremy Corbyn will become PM and complete Brexit negotiations with the EU, with foreign exchange and bond markets reacting negatively. This apocalyptic scenario, might be too hard to handle, for some of us. Fie!
As reality check correspondent for BBC News, Chris Morris said, “almost anything could happen.” But first, among the many unresolved issues, the EU-UK report on “sufficient progress” would have to be turned into a legal document. January will see the beginning of the negotiations on a transition period after Brexit. The EU’s demands regarding this issue is that any transition would need to agree to the EU’s regulations about budget payments and free movement, fall under the jurisdiction of the European court of Justice, and end by the 31 December 2020. According to the European Council President Donald Tusk, having the withdrawal agreement and a general draft about the kind of relationship the UK and the EU will have in the future, finalised by October, would be a “furious race against time.” As Morris concluded, Brexit will “take up an enormous amount of political time and energy throughout the year,” and any possibility of certainty is an illusion.
UK Economy: Keep calm and carry on?
The weak pound might have helped exports, and the economy is in much better shape than many had anticipated, but there are already signs of slow growth, a squeeze in households and wages, as price inflation soared in 2017. But the Bank of England believes that inflation peaked above 3% in the last months of 2017 and in the coming months will begin to fall. Sterling’s devaluation is then last year’s story, and things will improve for the Pound as 2018 brings more positivity. There are indications that wages will slowly grow, but Britain will have the worst wage growth of any wealthy nation in 2018, as inflation will remain higher than real wages. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, unemployment rate will rise the next five years, as official data shows that there are already less people in work; around 32 million. Since interest rates aren’t rising and are staying low, this will help poorer households, but they might rise from 0.50% to 0.75%. The Guardian’s economic view is that with Carney’s departure in June 2019, and possible uncertainty around his replacement, borrowers will have to be alert, since wage growth will remain low and the cost of living will continue to rise.
Disappointingly, Trump isn’t going anywhere. While impeachment papers have been introduced to the House, Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian connections of Trump’s campaign officials is getting closer and closer to the White House, 2018 will still find the orange-tinted, Twitter-obsessed president in the White House. Power operates in strange ways. So, unfair.
The 2018 Russian presidential election on 18 March will most possibly result in Putin’s re-election. However, this time Putin faces a Russian majority that wants change and which has experienced three years of real terms income decline. With 80% approval ratings he might not have much to fear, but the times are a changing. The only opposition politician, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from the ballot due to a previous conviction for fraud, which according to Navalny, was exaggerated to stop him from running against Putin. But Navalny has inspired a new generation of young voters who might take to the streets if Putin returns to Kremlin.
On a lighter, but no less significant note, the UK will welcome new coins. But, just take a breath. This is no monster money, but the new coins will be introduced in the UK to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and commemorate a century since women gained the right to vote. On the one side of the two-pound coins will feature the word “Frankenstein” and “The Modern Prometheus.” Despite expectations, most of us will be disappointed, since, Dr Frankenstein’s unnameable creature, most notably recognised by Boris Karloff’s gothic appearance in the 1930s adaptation of the novel, will not feature anywhere on the coins.