2018 was another year of chaos — in politics, economics, culture, the climate and in most other areas of life worth talking about. Here I explore why 2019 is likely to be more of the same, given the lack of any serious attempts to address the causes and confront reality.
Perhaps the simplest illustration of increasingly instability is Brexit — the Sisyphus who just won’t quit.
After lengthy negotiations the British government has come back with a compromise deal on Britain’s exit from the EU. It looks unlikely that the minority Tory government will be able to gain enough support for the deal to get it through parliament, opening up the question of what will happen if (or most likely when) the deal is rejected. Does Britain simply leave the EU without a deal? Will there be another referendum? Will there be a general election? Will Corbyn ever explicitly state his beliefs on membership of the EU? Will Theresa May quit in shame, having already promised she won’t lead the Tories into another election? Are we all just figments of Donald Trump’s imagination?
The truth is, nobody knows. Not even GCHQ.
Another truth is that while Brexit has been blamed for the instability in the government and the economy, it is more a symptom of a widespread, long-term loss of trust in the system than it is a cause. The EU does not enjoy any kind of popular consensus in its member nations — almost all have a relatively populist party that is steadfastly opposed to the EU. Many of these parties have grown in size and influence due to being able to get elected to the European parliament via proportional representation, rather than by getting elected as domestic MPs in their own countries. The EU contains the seeds of its own downfall…