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Are we in or out?

To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years.
To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.

In 1939, they call it the “phoney war.” The months which followed King George’s famous radio announcement September 1939 in that “as of now, this country is at war with Germany”. Everyone was expecting the worst and it didn’t come. Until it arrived with a vengeance when the Germans attacked France, Belgium and Holland in May 1940.

Bear with me on this because there is a point, it’s not just a history lesson.

My point is that, while the country was expecting the worst, things very much went on as normal for the vast majority of people, with most of the worrying action happening the other side of the channel.

I’m sensing a similar state of affairs with the economy, post-Brexit. Actually, that should more accurately be post-Brexit-vote, which isn’t the same thing as Brexit by a long chalk.

The doom-mongerers – and I count myself amongst them – were certain sure that the prospects for the economy were completely dire should we vote to leave, that we would plunge immediately into recession again. We haven’t. In fact, the FTSE 100 has been booming post-vote.

Not that that is necessarily an indication that the Remainers got it totally wrong and the Leavers were right. The plummeting pound has proved good news for companies that rely on exports, making their prices more competitive, boosting revenue in the short term. Less good news though for those companies who import goods to the UK market, buying them in Euros or dollars and selling them in Sterling. And when the domestic economy tanks, it’s invariably the housing market that gets hit the hardest.

So far though, talking to merchants and builders, it’s not slowed up. Indeed, some are busier than ever. However, we do have to remember that it has only been two months (to the day as I write this), although so much has happened since then that it seems aeons ago.

Maybe it will be allright and the markets will just gradually adjust to the new world order. And maybe the mayhem will just take its time to arrive. Satisfying though the thought of saying “I told you so” to any Leavers might be, it wouldn’t make up for the hole in my wallet or my pension fund.

So the phoney post-Brexit-vote war goes on and, thus far, the only real losers are those who were daft enough to book a European holiday without stocking up on a gazillion Euros back in May.


About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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