Brexit Weekly Bulletin, 21st September; ‘The Conservative party conference, save the last dance for me, please Ma’am’ writes Philip Gilbert


And we could dance. Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio………..1


And dance she did, the PM became the Dancing Queen as she approached the podium to begin her address to the faithful, or perhaps unfaithful, at this week’s party conference in Birmingham.

Rumours about this being an audition for the BBCs Strictly Come Dancing have been denied!

Once that tragic moment was over the PM told the audience, “Britain is not afraid to leave with no deal if we have to”.

‘Britain is not afraid to leave with no deal if we have to’

Moving on, she reiterated her stance that the UK will not accept a Brexit deal that “keeps us in EU in all but name”, ruling out customs union or single market membership – or one that “carves off Northern Ireland”; a reference to the EU’s proposal to create a customs border between the region and the Republic of Ireland.

May again ruled out the chance of a second referendum, explaining: “It is my job is to do what I think is right and in the nations interests”. Other highlights in her speech, included:


  • Calling on the EU to show the UK “respect”
  • The UK will “restore complete control” of who comes into the country


And, some revealing quotes:


  • “What we are proposing is very challenging for the EU. But if we stick together and hold our nerve I know we can get a deal that delivers for Britain.”
  • “The ingenuity of the British people will see us through.”
  • “Free movement of people will end once and for all. [But] migrants have made a huge contribution to this country and will continue to in the future”


In addition, the PM is set to propose a significant compromise on the issue of the Irish border in efforts to inch closer to a deal with the EU, according to Bloomberg.

The offer, which is expected to be extended later this month, would see the UK back down on its opposition to new checks on goods moving between the British mainland and Northern Ireland, in an attempt to see the EU compromise in turn by allowing the UK to stay in the bloc’s customs regime.

Now what of the PMs party colleagues, well there was some differences of opinion here…

Lord Willetts, a former Tory Cabinet minister, backed the campaign for a second referendum on the outcome of Brexit talks.

Known as “Two Brains” because of his intellect, gave his support for a “People’s Vote”, warning that Britain’s economic success must not be “sacrificed to fulfil ideological obsessions”.

He joined a number of Conservative MPs who are calling for the public to have another say before the UK quits the EU, including former attorney general Dominic Grieve, ex-education secretary Justine Greening, Commons health committee chairwoman Sarah Wollaston, former ministers Guto Bebb, Phillip Lee and Anna Soubry, and Heidi Allen, Amber Rudd, and up to 40 others.

Taking a very different line was Boris Johnson, which he demanded that the PM should “chuck” her Chequers blueprint”, in a speech which the PM admitted made her both “cross and frustrated”.

Boris Johnson stole the show at the Tory conference today with a speech branding Theresa May’s Chequers plans “a cheat”.  He made his most impassioned attack yet on the PMs handling of Brexit, with quotes such as, “If we cheat the electorate — and Chequers is a cheat — we will escalate the sense of mistrust.”

‘If we cheat the electorate — and Chequers is a cheat — we will escalate the sense of mistrust’

And, if that wasn’t enough, shortly before the PMs keynote speech, James Duddridge revealed he had sent a letter to the chairman of the Conservative 1922 backbench committee, Sir Graham Brady, calling for a contest. “I write this with heavy heart, however we now need a proper leadership election and to move on,” he said.

The MP for Rochford and Southend East said that Conservatives need “a strong leader, someone who believes in Brexit and someone to deliver what the electorate voted for”. What he really means is he want a leader who agrees with him. Didn’t I write something like that last week?

So, in summary they have delivered a ringing endorsement for my comment in last week’s article, Episode 4, “Shot by both sides”, “the Conservatives are so fraught with internal strife over Brexit that they seemingly cannot unify”.

‘the Conservatives are so fraught with internal strife over Brexit that they seemingly cannot unify’

Never fear, post the conference, in what could be described as a qualified endorsement of the PM as Liam Fox said Brexit would be at risk in the absence of compromise. “We must leave, and we must leave on 29 March. Not to deliver Brexit is the greatest political risk we could run,” we should try to get as much of a final deal as we can get by 29 March, but it’s self-evident that if it’s a bilateral treaty, it can be revised later on.” Of course, that is if the EU will renegotiate with us

Enough of politics, let us now turn to investment, this week saw the publication of the annual Robeco Expected Returns (2019-2023) report, which projects average annual returns, in euro terms, for major asset classes over the next five years, there predictions are:


pg 0510 1


This set me thinking back to the 1970s and what happened then. I first looked at GDP, the link follows:


Two things struck me:


  1. GDP fell in 12 out of the 40 quarters
  2. Of the remaining 28 quarters growth was less that 1% in 12 of them.


The stockmarket had a difficult time to, and was part of a long, secular bear market that began in 1968, and in some peoples, view lasted until August 1982, which was when inflation was finally conquered. Obviously, the standout in the chart below is the LSE’s FT 30 market falling an eye-watering 73% from peak (in April 1972) to trough (December 1974).


pg 0510 2



Don’t worry, I am not predicting that being repeated!

But the final word this week must go to Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, and a former Conservative party donor, who said he is prepared to go to prison to keep a giant “Bollocks to Brexit” poster above his London office after he was told to remove it by his local council.


1 Those that identified this week’s lyric are unlikely to be glued to strictly, but you may have noticed that Mrs M’s entrance to Conservative Party Conference was an homage to one of her great heroes, Ian Curtis. Or not. Whatever, enjoy, its a belter:



pgPhilip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.