UK no longer ‘sick man’ as France burns, Germany slumps and Trump threatens civil war | Personal Finance | Finance
The UK was in disarray last year, going through three prime ministers, four chancellors and two monarchs in 12 months.
It all came to a head in October, in the aftermath of former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget fiasco.
His decision to unleash £45billion worth of unfunded tax cuts almost brought the country to its knees.
Our enemies (and many of our friends) laughed as the pound plunged towards parity with the US dollar and our pension system almost collapsed.
Remainers were particularly gleeful, as they saw this as our punishment for voting to quit the EU.
The nation was so cowed there was barely a murmur of complaint as new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt taxed us all to death to soothe the bond market, which as we now know really runs the UK.
Much has changed since then. Today, the UK is still peaky but at least it’s out of its sick bed and taking solids. Sadly, I can’t say the same for our allies.
France has whipped itself up into a revolutionary fervour over pensions and threatening to guillotine King Charles for some reason, while the US is on the brink of civil war, as attempts to send Donald Trump to prison look likely to dispatch him back to The White House instead.
And it’s Germany that’s heading into a recession, according to the Bundesbank, while the UK looks set to escape (if only by the skin of our teeth).
It’s quite a turnaround.
The US banking crisis quickly spread to Europe, where it destroyed Swiss bank Credit Suisse and almost sunk Germany’s Deutsche Bank.
Yet Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and NatWest stood firm.
Plus we got it right on Ukraine.
That’s the good news out of the way. Unfortunately, the UK still faces a heap of miseries.
Daily life remains of battle for millions as the cost-of-living crisis continues to rage, with inflation climbing to 10.4 percent in February.
Nothing seems to work anymore, including the trains, the NHS and HMRC helplines, while our police seem to spend more time committing crimes than solving them.
In our supermarkets, tomatoes have become as rare as truffles, and about as expensive with food inflation running at 18.2 percent.
Energy prices are still sky high and Hunt’s next tax grab kicks in on Thursday, as if taxes weren’t high enough.
Life expectancy is falling while the state pension age will keep rising to 70 and beyond.
Sunak’s string of victories have yet to feed through to the voters in any meaningful way.
Labour leader Keir Starmer is still favourite to win the next election.
It will be a hard-fought battle but Sunak is in with a chance, as inflation is expected to fall sharply this year, making voters feel a little better off.
Whoever wins, the contest won’t tear the country in two. We cannot say the same for the EU as Emmanual Macron in France and Olaf Scholz in Germany are on the rack, while in the US Donald Trump’s return threatens to unleash chaos.
Soon we may be counting our (relative) blessings.