Another Round Anyone?

'Comment' by BVAA Director, Rob Bartlett

Sir Thomas Comyn-Platt is a name unknown to most people. He was however the step-father (or, depending on whose books you read, father) of the famous 20th century British actor, David Niven.

Knighted, as many were, for some obscure, early 20th century service to the Conservative party, he was regarded as rather a dullish diplomat. He did however make one well-informed if unsung observation that the world would be a considerably less-troubled place if only the embassies remained closed for half the year. I’m certain there’s some truth in this wry observation.

Right now, we’re being subjected to another round of political maneuvering that Machiavelli would have applauded.

The UK has officially fired the Brexit start canon. Two years and counting.

France appears to be flirting with the far right again. And Spain appears has leapt on the opportunity to try to secure Gibraltar. Indeed, the UK and the other EU countries have such interwoven strands of dispute and self-interest, built up over decades, it will be a miracle if a deal, be it ‘hard,’ ‘soft’ or whatever other adjective you want to use, can be found in the time period. The mood music, at the moment, seems to indicate more countries might be minded to leave the EU, rather than close ranks.

So, the likely outcomes on Brexit are there will either be ‘no deal,’ or a rushed deal with a fee very like what we were already paying, but without the benefits of membership (if only trade associations could swing that one!).

Domestically we have troubles of a different kind in Northern Ireland that on any other day would be occupying the news anchors for hours. And even if the current issues there can be resolved, there’s the not inconsiderable matter of an open border between the UK and the EU remaining on the island of Ireland. Great for trade, slight handicap to controlling migration. So, no ‘gain’ there either.

Then we have Scotland. Changing circumstances or outright opportunism? I’m all for ‘reviewing the situation,’ and there’s no doubt Brexit changes the scene there, as it does in all the home countries, but arguing to leave one solid, well-tried Union because we are together leaving, er, well, a Union, is a tough sell to the voters. Particularly so close to the last rejection of the idea, when the core of the fiscal argument - North Sea oil - was thrice the current price.

And then there’s the USA... Well let’s just move on shall we?

Moving on is precisely what will happen. Currency unions have come and gone. Countries have been bankrupted many times (Greece surprisingly one less time than Germany). All the uncertainty will lead to winners and losers on the global stock markets. It will be rough for a while. And as always things will eventually settle down once everyone has come to terms with the new landscape. The costs however will be considerable, one way or another.

So what to do? Well as I write Mrs. May has called a snap election. We all get a vote so I’d start voting I think! The rub here is that there might be, indeed may have to be, unprecedented ‘tactical voting’ by Brits - not so much for what people want, but to stop something happening that they don’t want even more.

But from a valves perspective, despite the uncertainty we need to keep reminding customers of our capabilities, and positioning ourselves as their best option. That means responding to their needs, and using our opportunity to advise more as well as sell. I do sense a realisation is dawning that we are all in this together and do need to co-operate.

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 41

Summer 2018 // Issue 45
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