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What’s Happening? Boris Johnson blows up his government’s economic policy; a man called Colin blows up Brexit Twitter.
The resignation of Sajid Javid, who quit as chancellor of the exchequer on Thursday, has upended plans for next month’s budget, Britain’s most closely watched piece of political theater. His exit could also herald a reshaping of how Johnson’s Conservative government handles the national finances.
In short, it’s a mess. Javid, who was used to a degree of autonomy, quit because he was asked to fire his most senior advisers. Johnson’s interference suggests Javid’s reputation as a fiscal hawk clashed with a desire in 10 Downing Street for looser purse strings: the ex-chancellor’s self-imposed fiscal rules allow extra for infrastructure spending but also require day-to-day public spending and revenue to be in balance within three years. Now all of that self-restraint is in doubt. New Chancellor Rishi Sunak was promoted as part of a wider cabinet reshuffle.
“Trump-style stimulus could return,” said Benjamin Nabarro, an economist at Citigroup Inc. “Javid’s resignation makes it more likely that the Conservatives jettison their 2019 fiscal framework sooner, paving the way for large fiscal easing.”
Read More: U.K. Political Shock Opens the Door to Trump-Style Stimulus
While the furor in Westminster rages on, a more everyday sort of outrage erupted on Twitter on Friday. A Brexit-backer named Colin Browning vented his fury at a lengthy immigration delay at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, declaring: “This isn’t the Brexit I voted for.”
The response was overwhelming, with thousands replying to inform Browning that he had, in fact, voted for new border frictions. The truth, alas, isn’t so simple: The transition period means nothing has changed at U.K.-EU borders—yet. Schiphol Airport took to Twitter to point out the delay was actually caused by new staff being trained.
A storm in a teacup? Not quite. The pile-on is a reminder that, even if Britain has formally left the EU, Brexit has lost none of its power to polarize opinion—never mind the facts.
- Climate skeptics in asset management are under pressure to reveal which groups they back.
- Royal Bank of Scotland is no more: In a break with hundreds of years of history, RBS will become NatWest.
- Coronavirus has made toilet paper the hot new currency in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Brexit in Brief
On the Markets | Investors trying to make sense of Javid’s departure from the Treasury are preparing for U.K. government bonds to weaken relative to their peers, taking the shine off this year’s rally. Greater infrastructure investment aimed at boosting the economy may give the pound a temporary lift, yet longer-term sentiment is still shaky ahead of tough talks with the EU.
Border Controls | Boris Johnson’s new cabinet agreed to bring in a new points-based immigration system starting Jan. 1, the prime minister’s spokesman told reporters in London on Friday. The new system “would end reliance on importing cheap, low-skilled labor,” Jamie Davies said.
Travel Costs | Under former Prime Minister Theresa May, the British government spent almost £500,000 on flights and trains to Brussels from 2016 to 2019, the Guardian reports, citing a freedom of information request.
Protocol Problem? | The UK could be brought before the European Court of Justice if it fails to carry out checks and controls on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, according to RTE’s Tony Connelly.
Long Read | After Brexit, what is the new orthodoxy? In the London Review of Books, Ferdinand Mount roams from ancient Greece to Burke and Luttwak for clues as to what may come of Johnson’s government.
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