THE BLOG

2016: A Defining Year for the World?

09/02/2016 15:39 GMT | Updated 08/02/2017 10:12 GMT

You're probably thinking what on earth am I going on about, 2016 is just another year in the calendar but it's not. The decisions made this year in both the political, legal and economic spheres will have consequences that are far reaching.

What am I talking about?

A possible EU Referendum later this year will decide whether the UK stays within the supranational union, which includes 28 countries with a population that exceeds 500m. So what? You might be thinking. The EU has held us back, shouts the Eurosceptic; free movement of labour, capital and goods - nonsense.

Those arguing for us to remain in the UK will be praying David Cameron can do better than a fragmented and compartmentalised deal. One that can tackle further integration and allows the national government to reinforce its sovereignty to block EU legislation. For example, having the flexibility to restrict rights to EU migrants who haven't stayed in the UK for 4 years or more. At the same time, pro-Europeans will want to ensure that the UK does not have to contribute to any EU bailouts or to adopt the Euro later down the line. Understandably, the government will be nervous because, with a global slowdown predicted, economic growth is set to be trimmed down. Any uncertainty would not be good for the economy, or for inward investment with speculation rife that the Bank of England will raise interest rates later this year. They also know that Nicola Sturgeon will capitalise on emotions and want another Scottish referendum on independence soon after, which could undoubtedly break up the UK for good. Eurosceptics will be crying just hearing this, it's a slippery slope to further integration, get out while you can! And whilst you're there, repeal the Human Rights Act as well. How on earth can we go from a laissez-faire approach on data protection to having to adopt the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) they mutter.

I have always believed being in Europe is a good thing but we should not be run by Europe.

Away from the EU drama, this year we will see a new Mayor of London and a new US president.

The London Mayor, who will it be?

The Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, promises to introduce a 50% affordable housing target for new developments and to freeze TFL fares. However, the Tory candidate, Zac Goldsmith, claims he will double-house building so that 50,000 houses will be built by 2020, alongside a fully functioning overnight tube service. Bizarrely, the biggest news is actually hearing about the long awaited Heathrow expansion ruling which neither candidate has really bothered to entertain. Probably hoping that amidst all the EU rhetoric everyone has forgotten. This seems odd, afterall Goldsmith (and Cameron) both promised they would never let the third runway be built at Heathrow. The polls suggest that Zac Goldsmith beat Sadiq Khan in the first TV election debate but if I had to put my money on one of them winning it would be Zac Goldsmith.

You might be thinking that I was finished here - too soon. In America, the incumbent promised much but delivered little; gun crime has risen, national security has worsened, the Iraq war is still ongoing and foreign affairs are still foreign. Don't despair, in November, we will see a new US president who will shape the global landscape in the coming four years. I can smell political action committees lining up, perhaps they were the ones that gave Donald Trump the confidence to marginalise and sow discord amongst the Muslim community. Many will be relieved he lost to Ted Cruz in Iowa. It might be true the loudest one in the room really is the weakest. If that's the case Marco Rubio really does have a chance to win and maybe that's why Nicholas Sarkozy (in France) thinks he can help Marine Le Pen win next year.

Elections done, I am still waiting to see the long-awaited Chilcot inquiry. You might have forgotten about the 'dodgy dossier' which led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the very fact that no UN resolution was obtained for the war but it's important to remember. The current Middle East crisis is a direct result of our actions which has exacerbated the threat from international terrorism with an increase in hardened ideologies and lone wolf attacks which affects everyone.

You're probably thinking this blog is getting a bit serious now, don't worry, I will spare you the details with a different perspective. It's pretty obvious to any outsider that some sort of new world order is redrawing the boundaries in the Middle East.

For me, a power vacuum was left after the Baathist regime was ousted in Iraq which has been filled by many different actors all vying for the balance of power. Perhaps those who helped remove Saddam Hussein were promised power but later realised they were double bluffed. The reality is that Syria is a victim stuck in the middle of a proxy war being fought between old Cold War powers who are desperate for a sphere of influence. Why is this relevant? The costs of war are now being felt at home and the number of refugees fleeing and relocating to the UK is huge. I hope the peace talks this year can bring a peaceful resolution to end the conflict and that there are no more wars.

For these reasons, 2016 is a defining year...