Our new PM: The new messiah or a poor man’s Donald Trump?by
The long-anticipated news that Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has put an end to some speculation.
Now, the former Mayor of London will actually have to put our money where his mouth is. While many of his plans may not impact directly on accountants, those relating to taxation certainly will.
As members of the community, we will also enjoy and/or finance the policies he finally decides to implement.
As always, change is good for those in the professions and one has to imagine that many clients will require additional advice in the near future, which has to be good news.
The most interesting thing to watch over coming weeks will be his efforts to backtrack on streams of promises designed to harness the votes of Conservative Party members.
Putting the European question aside for a moment, the man who seems to share so many attributes with the President of the United States, including attitudes to women and immigrants, as well as a desire to cut taxes and spend, has promised to plough government money into just about anything that anybody has mentioned to him during the campaign.
If he really follows through on these promises, either we will need to borrow like never before or face the kind of austerity that leaves children in the North suffering the kind of Dickensian squalor in which shoes are no more than a dreamed of luxury.
On the tax front, Mr Johnson started out boldly then got significantly vaguer. This columnist would quite like to bet the Prime Minister’s annual salary that the promise of a hike in the higher rate tax threshold to £80,000 will not be forthcoming in the near future.
As a sop to those that have just voted in the member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, perhaps he might stick an extra few thousand on to the current figure, but it is hard to foresee it going above around £55,000.
A much more likely outcome of all of these promises is a need to increase stealth taxes, though the new PM is hardly renowned for his stealth.
Before any of that, he has to decide who will become Chancellor of the Exchequer. Philip Hammond has already announced that he will step down, unwilling to be tarred with the same brush as his new leader.
The next strongest candidate, former Treasury minister David Gauke, is also heading to the backbenches, presumably to watch and wait for yet another Conservative leader to bite the dust. Who knows, they might even help him to fall. In any event, a Budget must be in the offing.
Much as this writer would like to do so, it is impossible to duck the Brexit question. Mr Johnson seems determined to do or die, whatever the cost to the nation.
The two resignations mentioned previously are telling. The former Chancellor and an impressive past Treasury minister both adamantly believe that leaving Europe without a deal is the equivalent to firing a machine-gun into your foot and then keeping your finger on the trigger.
Like his American superhero, Johnson is big on rhetoric but we may well find that he is also someone who follows his power by stepping back when he gets to the brink. However, such an approach will not please his colleagues in the ERG, although having been elected he may not care about offending them.
There is a strong chance that the only way of avoiding a general election or referendum later this year is to find an excuse to keep Britain in the EU until some kind of vaguely sensible deal can be negotiated, which certainly won’t be possible by Halloween.
None of us knows what will happen next, almost certainly including the man who is probably already arranging to change the locks at number 10 Downing Street.
Whether his arrival will be good news for the world, the country and the accountancy profession remains to be seen but now, the die is cast.