THE BLOG
29/12/2017 15:08 GMT | Updated 29/12/2017 15:08 GMT

10 Simple Predictions For UK And World Politics In 2018

Brexit will not go smoothly, which shouldn’t be a surprise

Pierre Albouy / Reuters

In 2015 and again in 2016, I made a number of political predictions for those years. In 2015, I was right about 50% of the time. In 2016… well, suffice to say I made some major errors, but I did get a few things right.

Where I was wrong: I said there’d be no general election. Clearly there was I said Francois Fillon would be president. Not a mention of Macron! Labour MPs would start splitting off, but there’s no sign of that happening. Italians would vote to leave the Euro and Turkey would leave NATO. No concrete signs of either yet, though perhaps I was simply a year or two early. Boris Johnson, by some unknown secret method, has managed to remain in place. I’m pretty shocked by this!

However, I was right that Corbyn will remain leader of Labour, no progress on a US/UK trade deal (people might say that’s because we can’t negotiate a deal whilst in the EU, but that’s no my point here. My point is that there is no overall diplomatic desire for a trade deal from Trump), Article 50 will have been invoked with major challenges in parliament and Trump would be accepted by the electoral college. As an extension, Nigel Farage has been completely side lined in UK/US relations and has played almost no role at all.

Here are the predictions for 2018:

1. Brexit will not go smoothly – This shouldn’t be a surprise. What was touted as the simplest and easiest thing ever (leave or stay) has been shown to be exceptionally complicated. Expect major delays in 2018, including at least one major defeat to the government in parliament. Expect the DUP to cause at least one major issue.

2. Corbyn will switch his party’s stance from leave to remain – Now some of you won’t know this (for some reason) but Corbyn is a pretty strong leaver. He has been all his political life and has never been a fan of the EU. But, most Labour voters are remainers and he’ll need to make some tough choices on the future of his party, as he can’t continue to hold an unclear line. In the end, he’ll come down on the side of remain. Whether that makes any material difference to Brexit or the future of Labour or the Conservatives is really a question for the next general election in 2022.

3. Mrs May will stay as PM and Conservative party leader – I actually, despite all that has happened, think she’s done a pretty good job. I doubt many other leaders would have held it together as well as she has done….

4. …but she’ll need to start sacking the old guard if she wants the party to win the next election – Time for change Mrs May. A lot of the cabinet simply aren’t up to the task. Boris Johnson should have gone months ago. The promotion of Gavin Williamson was a clever one, but he’s got a real steep learning curve ahead. Amber Rudd and Phillip Hammond are two good players, and the return of Michael Gove has been an excellent (though surprising) decision. Others though need swapping out for some new blood. Expect to see some interesting appointments in the new year.

5. No progress for the Lib Dems – What did you expect, you chose Vince Cable as leader?!

6. Northern Ireland Assembly issues will remain unsolved – The political environment in Northern Ireland is simply not in a place to allow any meaningful resolution. Brexit certainly won’t help, with the DUP being so pro-Brexit but having unreasonable border expectations.

7. German elections and the return of Merkel – Merkel will manage to form a coalition, spurred on by the rise of the AfD. A re-election will only serve the benefits of the AfD and no-one wants that. It’ll come at a cost though, and France under Macron will be seen more and more as the defacto European leader.

8. Putin will be re-elected in Russia – Yes yes, this might seem obvious, but has major ramifications for the UK and the rest of the world. Expect there to be a number of accusations around Western meddling in Russian elections as counter-information to the investigation into Russian interference in the Trump election. Also…

9. The truth of the depth of Russian interference will become clear – Trump, Brexit and possibly even other European elections will uncover all manner of issues raised by the purchasing of ads on social media programmes by non-state and non-political actors. This will have repercussions on the Trump presidency. It’ll also have a huge impact on the big tech companies; Google and Facebook will be in the firing line and expect to see arguments for them to be split up.

10. The end of Trump – We’ll start to see at least one major scandal finally bringing Trump down. Who knows what it could be; sexual harassment claims, ties to Russia, tax issues…perhaps even all three of them or something completely new? The question really is, how has it not already happened?