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Boris Johnson

#@&* business!

25th Jul 2019
Partner An unnamed firm
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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.


Replies (6)

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rebecca cave
By Rebecca Cave
26th Jul 2019 09:17

We should be doubley worried that the Business Sectretary is now Andrea Leadsom.

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By LostinSuspense
30th Jul 2019 12:50

It's that he has decided we are leaving with no deal from the start but we won't leave until 31 October.

If he won't negotiate, then just go to the EU say "We're leaving now with no deal and as of tomorrow the UK won't be a member of the EU" then we can start sorting out what happens.

Instead we are left with 3 months of uncertainty, but never mind, good old Boris will muddle us through this with an inane publicity stunt to make us all feel good...

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By ColA
02nd Aug 2019 10:09

This morning it would appear the 'Boris bounce' in polls was merely disturbance in the ether.
Like his two predecessors all too soon he will have to eat his lugubrious and fanciful rants and accept the reality about which the business and finance community has been warning for some four years.

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By dgilmour51
02nd Aug 2019 11:57

The trouble with economists is that they extrapolate from data and can only do that based on historical experience. This means that they cannot account for the constant incremental adaptions that business makes to cope with real or percieved threats.
My maxim has always been "follow the money".
In the end, regardless of Brexit, the EU, US-China Trade threat, IF out politicians don't lead us into war in its several forms then businesses will pretty much usurp the conditions and, one way or another, do what it takes to make a profit.
Of course there will be winners and loosers - that is Darwinian evolution ... frankly I'm indifferent to the antics of our elected donkeys [and BoE economic forecasts!] - on balance, in the medium term, business will adjust.

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By listerramjet
03rd Aug 2019 02:36

I’d stick to the accounting! And for the record the Johnson rant in your headline was addressed at the CBI and related to their remain politicking! And also for the record, most real economists reflect that whilst Brexit will be disruptive appropriate policy responses will take us through it without causing economic Armageddon!

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By Shafeen
05th Aug 2019 15:13

He has promised funding for everything under the sun, but still surrounds himself with advisers who have been clamouring to scrap HS2, anti climate lobbyists and most things that Trump believes in. Unbelievable

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