The effect of the landslide victory by the Conservative Party in the 2019 UK Election cannot be understated: There will now be seismic changes for the UK. By the end of the month Brexit had already gone into overdrive. To manage the risk and impact on the UK economy we must surely now heading into the most significant change to economic and monetary policy the UK has experienced in a generation.
About 45% of UK imports come from the EU and 79% of imported food comes from the EU. The import and export of components for manufacturers in the UK will be subject to additional duties and boarder/customs checks which is expected to cause significant cost overheads and disruption to supply chains, this will hurt all manufacturers as they virtually all operate on ‘Just in Time’ principles.
The Tories now have a thumping majority of 80 seats following the UK election, held on 12th December. This puts them firmly in change for the next 5 years to deal with the issues and challenges that the country now faces. This election result also marks a definitive end to the Brexit debate. I have covered the election results in more detail in an interstitial post on this link.
The current European joint ventures in Aerospace (including satellite tech collaboration and Airbus) are widely expected become a thing of the past. Ford, Honda, Nissan and Vauxhall (owned by PSA) have already announced they are moving a large proportion of their UK production capability abroad. Availability of skills and talent in engineering, manufacture, IT and Pubic Services are all expected to be badly hit with restrictions on free movement of people from Europe. The NHS alone is expected to lose 50,000 people as a result of BREXIT.
The list of financial institutions who are moving major operations and / or head offices out of the UK is extensive. £800 Billion worth of assets are now expected to be moved out of the UK to European destinations. Teams to manage these assets will be moving too, taking their expertise with them. The of banks that have announced they will be relocating European Operations from London to EU cities include: Bank of America, Barclays, Blackrock, BNP Paribas, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sach, HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, RBS, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered, UBS, Wells Fargo
The UK’s industrial and financial strategy will be forced to completely change as the UK’s global influence and stature reduces and the relative size of our economy shrinks.
The issue of the UK’s ageing population will become much more pronounced as we will have less people to do the work and pay taxes. The UK will have a faster growing proportion of old people wanting to claim state pensions and benefits, paid for by the diminishing workforce. This imbalance will slowly but surely be exacerbated by the crack-down on immigration,
A memorable high point of the 2019 election process was the evening walk to the Polling Station. It was dark, wet and blustery. Sonja and I made the short walk across the village with our daughter, as Immy is now just old-enough to vote. What a pivotal election for any-one to cast their very first vote.
The beginning of the month marked 19 years of happy marriage to my darling Sonja. We celebrated as a family, taking Max and Immy out to The Ivy Castle View in Guildford for an excellent evening meal. It’s a new retro-styled restaurant, very smart, with immaculately groomed staff who were welcoming, professional, friendly and serving up perfectly prepared food artistically set out on oversized plates. Such a pleasure for Sonja and I to be able to celebrate our anniversary in this way with our son and daughter. Delightful!
The RMT union on South Western Railways began month-long strike action on 2nd December. A skeleton service was provided and the trains that ran were absolutely rammed during rush hour. My work-around was to catch the 5:50am into London for the month and aim to head back home prior to the evening rush hour. The dispute is over the Company’s intention to modernise the rolling stock and operations and start running new trains which allow the drivers to operate the doors. RMT members want the Guards to remain in charge of the doors. This dispute has now been running for a couple of years across the country, hitting various different networks with industrial action. Now it’s the turn of SW rail commuters to experience the pain.
An unusually warm and prolonged SW air-stream from the Atlantic had delivered more than December’s average rainfall by the middle of the month. This excessive rainfall (across the UK) continued right up until the week before Christmas causing the water table to rise so much that the surface water was just not clearing. Rivers were at capacity and bursting their banks in many areas. We had flooded road closures and diversions (including M23) and rail way line closures due to landslips around Guildford. Combining all this disruption with the effects of the SW rail-strike made commuting into London a bit of challenge in the lead up to Christmas.
As a result of the extremely wet and un-seasonally warm air streams this December, we have been have been experiencing some wonderful sunrises. The sky is turning red as the first rays diffract through the atmosphere, and the moment when the sun rises on the horizon is often spectacular. The views down river from London Bridge have been totally magnificent. I’ve been particularly enjoying my early Saturday morning walks with Teddy over the Hogs Back too, and as the sun gets higher int he sky it immediately begins warming the land, creating a surface a layer of soft mist across the landscape.
Virgin Trains stopped operating the West Coast Main Line this month after running it for almost 22 years. They handed over to ‘Avanti West Coast’. Noting that Branson and his team are pulling out, it makes me wonder how difficult it must be to make public transport and infrastructure into a profitable business. Are we asking too much from business? Since the last financial crash in 2009, the UK has been stepping back from Classical Economics championed by Thatcher and taken a more Keynsian approach to fiscal policies with significant government intervention to keep the banks ticking over. Perhaps we go a step further and consider re-nationalising some of the railways?
The after-effects of being knocked off my bicycle has taken some of the sparkle out of December this year. Weekly travel costs have gone up again as the bike is a write-off. I lost three ½ days billing during the first week through injury and spent too much time chasing the insurance claim and following up on medical issues caused by the impact. Both knees and my right arm are still giving me problems at the end of the month, raising concerns about the planned ski trip.
We bought a modest 6ft Christmas tree this year and got it up and partially decorated b y the end of the first week in December. The house always smalls amazing in December with fragrances of fresh pine, and natural festive decorations loaded with cinnamon and citrus, mixed with the the delightful smells of baking. None the less, Christmas came around really quickly this month, almost unexpectedly.
On Christmas Eve my brother came round in his recently acquired AMG Mercedes and we drove down to Kent to take our Mum out for an excellent lunch at the Abbots Fireside, a good local restaurant. From there we drove across to Canterbury Cathedral for the Carol Service which I’d booked a few weeks earlier. The choir performed magnificently. The single chorister opening the proceedings with an unaccompanied solo of ‘Once in Royal Davids’ City’ always gets to me, and this was no exception. The service order was a perfect mix of choir-only pieces interspersed with congregation participation on the traditional carols. My vocal cords were fully stretched for the finale, as I made a rousing contribution to ‘Hark the Herald Angels‘. That experience, for me, marked the proper beginning of Christmas this year.
We hired a fantastic place to see the new year in this year with the usual crowd. Hats off to Wendy and Simon and for finding, quite possibly, the best venue we’ve ever had. If this is that last time we get together for new year then it was a fitting place to end on. We took Teddy this year as our friends had decided to bring their puppy and it didn’t seem right to leave him behind.
Here’s a shot of the penultimate sunrise of the year on a memorable early morning walk with Teddy.