For the last three years, I’ve made a list of ten political predictions. As with all things, it’s hit and miss on whether or not I am correct, especially in the current climate of unpredictable politics. The first two years I had about a 40% success rate, though in 2017 I did nail a few good predictions.
Where I was right: Brexit hasn’t gone smoothly (well duh), Mrs May has remained Conservative party leader and she has changed up her cabinet a bit. Boris resigned and wasn’t sacked as I predicted, but frankly being rid of him counts as a win to me. The Lib Dems remain lost, the NI Assembly remains out of action, Merkel managed to pull together a government and Putin is still president. I probably played a bit safe on these predictions to be honest.
Where I was wrong: Trump is still president. Like, WTF? What else does he need to do? We still haven’t got to the bottom of the Russian interference, though the Mueller investigation continues and has sunk some big fish. Corbyn still hasn’t switched his stance to remain, and frankly after his recent statement on his Brexit position, it’s clear he isn’t going to. He’s a Brexiteer through and through. So let’s get into 2019.
1. We’ll reach the Brexit endgame – With a myriad of different options, it’s really hard to predict where this one will go. We won’t leave without a deal or even the managed deal options; the first is too damaging and the second isn’t an option. That leaves only two likely choices, either Mrs May’s Brexit deal agreed with the EU or a second ref. I’m calling second ref.
2. Trump will be impeached – I mean come on! But it won’t be about Russians, it’ll be either the closure of the Trump Foundation and the dodgy use of its funds to help his election campaign, or it’ll be from getting his lawyer Michael Cohen to pay off porn stars who claimed Trump had sex with them.
3. Both Labour and Conservatives will experience major splits – There’s simply no way the various factions in these parties can hold together once the final option on Brexit goes forward. If it’s no deal, the remainers will split away. If it’s 2nd ref, the Brexiteers will split away. Both May and Corbyn will lose support regardless of the results. Perhaps this will be the year we see a new party form.
4. The Lib Dems will continue to be a non-entity, and with Brexit decided UKIP will fade to obscurity – With the exit of Farage and many of its MEPs, UKIP will go the way of the BNP. An amazing end for a political force which only four years ago polled nearly 4 million votes and led in the EU parliamentary elections. The Lib Dems are still rudderless and Grandpa Vince just isn’t able to pull the Lib Dems anywhere worth going.
5. The NI assembly will remain unresolved, but the character of NI politics will change – NI is an interesting place politically compared to the rest of the UK. One friend of mine from NI described NI politicians as being either religious zealots or terrorists. They’re of an old age and an old generation. The DUP’s Brexit agenda grates with NI’s youthful, progressive and very pro-EU population. Brexit will likely be the catalyst for political change in NI.
6. Call for another Scottish independence ref (and an NI one) will be made, and should the UK leave the EU, Scotland will leave the UK – this might feel a bit doomsday, but like Northern Ireland Brexit will be the catalyst for the break up of the UK. There desires and spirit of the nations are just too different and outside the EU, Scotland and even NI will be very unhappy with the concept of the UK. Whether Scotland or NI goes first is up for debate, but I expect we’ll lose one from the UK.
7. No other EU nation will choose to leave – What has been amazing to watch is how the remaining 27 nations of the EU have stuck to the same story. Even the Europhobe nations are more pro-EU than ever.
8. Trade wars between China and the USA will escalate – As long as Trump is in charge, trade relations will remain frosty and Trump will impost many populist measures to drive his own popularity. It’ll fail though, as US industry feels the bite from the embargos and trade tariffs.
9. Russia and Iran will fill the vacuum left by the USA in the Middle East – With the departure of the USA from Syria, and further reductions expected in Iraq and Afghanistan, old rivals will begin to take advantage of growing their sphere of influence. Syria is mostly in Russian hands now anyway, but now they have no challenge. It is an extraordinarily sad result and could end in great loss of life of many people opposed to Assad and other extremists.
10. The EU will be stable, but will still face massive challenges – The gilet jaunes in France, economic strains in Greece, political instability in Italy and racial stresses in Germany will hang over the entire EU, along with many other challenges. The ongoing refugee crisis, a weakened UK following Brexit (regardless of leave or remain) means that it’s not all rosey for the other 27 states of the EU. Expect further economic difficulties for the Euro nations. 2019 will be a tough year.