January 3, 2016 by Paul Goldsmith
Out of the EU, with Scotland out of the UK, Javid PM and Khan London Mayor, Corbyn out and Trump President of the USA. All MIGHT happen in 2016.
1. By the end of this year we might no longer be a member of the EU. If David Cameron were confident of remaining in he would have announced already that his MPs, and particularly his ministers, can have a free vote and campaign freely on an issue that is not party political but is hugely important for the future of the UK. If David Cameron were confident of remaining in he might have allowed the move to let 16 year olds vote in a referendum that massively affects their economic and political future. If David Cameron were confident of remaining in he would not be carrying out this rather pathetic and inconsequential ‘renegotiation’ for which Jacob Rees-Mogg’s term ‘thin gruel’ is an understatement. This is about how we engage with the continent next to us, and coming back arguing that migrants not getting in work benefits for four years is a ‘win’ will make the PM seem rather cheap. Having bounced himself into promising a referendum he didn’t want because of fears over UKIP he should have just had it. Instead, we wait.
2. By the end of the year Scotland might not be part of the UK. Yes, they said it was a ‘once in a generation’ vote, but if the UK leaves the EU with the people of Scotland having voted to remain, it would not be a surprise to see the SNP triggering a second independence referendum having put that scenario in their manifesto for the Scottish Assembly elections in May. This election is predicted to be a total ‘yellow’ wash for Labour, with it being expected that the SNP will increase their majority in the Scottish Assembly. A second independence referendum with the chance for Scotland to remain in the EU (and if the UK leave it is pretty much assured the EU will welcome Scotland in should it vote to leave the UK) will very likely go the SNP’s way.
3. By the end of this year we might have a Muslim Prime Minister and a Muslim Mayor of London. If the UK votes to leave the EU, David Cameron will almost certainly have to resign. In that case, it is likely that George Osborne will have greased enough MPs palms with money and patronage to be one of the two leadership candidates to go forward to a vote of the members in the second round. The other candidate could be Boris Johnson or Theresa May, both of whom Osborne would fear, given Johnson’s personal popularity with the electorate and May’s competence and longevity in the hardest ministerial role there is (Home Secretary). But watch out for Sajid Javid. Unlike the others he has a personal story (son of a bus driver), that the Conservatives like to think they promote, and would be extremely hard for Labour to neutralise using the types of personal attacks they can and have made on Cameron’s background. Meanwhile, another son of a bus driver, Sadiq Khan, can win the London Mayoral contest. He is up against the formidable operation of Zack Goldsmith, who has the resources to dominate their campaign but the backstory (as a Etonian billionaire who has barely lived in London and only had one job, given to him by his Uncle, before becoming an MP) that holds him back. If Javid is PM and Khan is Mayor, even the best that Islamic State’s PR machine can throw at us would make it hard to claim that Muslims are unwanted here.
4. By the end of this year Jeremy Corbyn might not be Labour leader. I am actually not predicting this, as I believe this far left project needs to be put through a general election for those behind it to really see whether it can actually succeed. But the leaked stories of the ‘Bonfire of the moderates’ that his shadow cabinet reshuffle could involve suggests either that he fears dissenting voices OR that he is in this for the long haul and wants to present a united face, particularly on issues that he has campaigned all his life (and end to Trident and essentially to any military involvement anywhere). The local elections in May will give an idea of how he is doing, although those always tend to go against the incumbent government. The Scottish elections were lost before he became leader, even though his leadership goes further in promising the Socialist utopia the SNP has been conning their electorate with over the past few years the issue in Scotland is far more about self-determination than it is about redistribution. Labour MPs can’t really remove him as leader, as the Labour Party members will vote him back in again and not accept him not being on the ballot. The only way Corbyn will not be in place at the end of this year is Corbyn himself. His age, and his love of being a campaigning constituency MP might make him tire of all these battles he is involved in.
5. By the end of this year Donald Trump might be President of the USA. Yes, I know his pronouncements are mad. But Trump is a successful businessman. He sees the Republican primary voters as potential customers and is telling them what they want to hear to get that nomination. Once he achieves that he will modify his message in the actual Presidential contest against Hillary Clinton. He will view the full electorate again as potential customers and will again give them what they want to hear, because he does actually have a history of supporting liberal causes he can point to. Should he win the White House, Donald Trump will not want to be remembered as the worst President ever, because he likes to win. So he will surround himself with the best people he can, like he has probably done with his business, and do the best job he can. Trump should not be underestimated. On a personal level, I have been a big fan of Marco Rubio ever since I saw him reduce Jon Stewart on the Daily Show to saying ‘you’re good, why can’t you be a Democrat’ a few years’ ago. But Trump is proving some opponent, so don’t count him out.
Happy New Year everyone. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!