Strangely enough, the heavily expurgated title of this article does not reflect my views. As an accountant, even if I did not like it, I would have to love business since supporting it is our raison d’être, not to mention meal ticket.
Therefore, our immediate reaction to the appointment of a prime minister who was publicly recorded saying “#@&* business” should prima facie be regarded by those in the profession as, at the very least, a little alarming.
My guess is that apologists will spend most of their time saying that “Boris”, a brand that he has probably patented by now, doesn’t mean most of what he says.
With all due respect, I wouldn’t feel too confident in voting for somebody who constantly makes statements that he then almost immediately retracts. That is one reason why I do not wish to live in the United States for the next year or two.
What does seem Pritti Patel from the outset, sorry that should have been pretty clear, is that Mr Johnson is determined to make the United Kingdom leave the European Union without any kind of deal or, given the chaos to date, any considered arrangements to protect the economy or business from the consequences.
While this remarkably undiplomatic diplomat happily makes wild statements about his ability to negotiate by blackmailing his European counterparts, they would be completely mad to back down in a public statement of their own weakness.
I have a suspicion that Mr Johnson believes he can behave like Donald Trump. There is a big difference here that, despite his expensive education, appears to have eluded our new prime minister.
To use an analogy from the world of accountancy, if your largest and most demanding client comes to you and says that they want a 20% cut in fees, you attempt to refuse, beg a bit and then accept the inevitable.
However, if a relatively small, particularly awkward, client demands a 20% cut in fees by threatening to go elsewhere, what is our instant reaction? I certainly heave a big sigh of relief, adjust budgets to take into account a small loss of revenue and fire off an instant e-mail saying goodbye before he or she changes their mind.
I leave readers to determine whether our country comes into the first or second of these categories, though since all of you are accountants, I cannot imagine that anybody will get the answer wrong.
What can we expect over the next few months? One possibility is a general election and the imminent arrival of Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. Here is another man who is not greatest fan of business and therefore this unlikely to benefit the profession.
If that doesn’t happen, then presumably we will crash out of Europe in flames and go straight into recession. It is all very well for Johnsonistas to say that Europe will go into recession as well. That might or might not happen, but Britain’s recession will be much deeper and harder to escape.
I’m no economist but almost every economist, including some who favour the Johnson approach, seem to accept that any post-Brexit recession will be long and deep.
At present, the difference between the man in the street and the man/woman in the new cabinet relies on politics and optimism. Those who regard the new PM as a genius think that somehow he will cut instant deals here, there and everywhere to protect business. We can only hope.
To my mind, Mr Johnson’s case is hardly helped in that neither his domestic tax nor spending policies add up, which should set his new next-door neighbour Sajid Javid a series of potentially insuperable challenges.
The more sanguine are already expecting many business failures and burgeoning unemployment. If they are right, there will be fewer clients to audit, advise and, most significantly, charge extortionate fees. Perhaps the safest route is into business recovery?
My editor recently reminded me that, three years ago, I wrote a piece fretting about the future if Trump and Johnson became leaders of their respective nations. If anything, with my accountant’s hat on, I’m even more fearful now that this prediction has actually come to pass and Mr J has a chance to deliver on his promise to #@&* business.
About The Imprudent Accountant
Someone who should know better, but can't resist the occasional rant about the more exasperating aspects of the accountancy profession.