Posted on 17th August 2019

Slane Castle

They say August is a wicked month and this year it brings unnerving events.  India sends thousands of troops into Kashmir and shuts down its autonomous government threatening a regional conflict with Pakistan, another nuclear power.  The scale of this is mind boggling.  Seven million Kashmiris have been confined to their homes, all internet and phone connections have been cut off and the Indian government have effectively turned Kashmir into a giant prison camp.  Meanwhile Imran Khan the Muslim leader of Pakistan has accused the Hindu Indian leader Narendra Modi of being inspired by Nazi ideology.  Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and is predominantly Muslim.  This is one of the most militarised zones on the planet and the potential for conflict here should be of global concern.

Moving further east, television news screens have been dominated by the increasingly violent scenes from the demonstrations and rioting in Hong Kong.  The key question here is whether the Chinese government are going to intervene by sending in troops.  The Communist government must be sorely tempted to stamp out what they perceive as an affront to their authority, but what we in the West see is Hong Kong residents trying to protect their democratic rights.  China has to be careful as Hong Kong is still a golden goose and of structural importance to the Chinese economy currently being battered by a trade war with the United States.  However, if the Chinese do go in, it will send a shudder around the world and an economic shock which will not be welcome at a time when many economic indicators are screaming recession.

None of this is good because we face great uncertainty.  Germany, the engine of the Eurozone is on the brink of recession.  Matteo Salvini, the right wing firebrand, may well become the next Italian Prime Minister.  Strongly Eurosceptic, he might be tempted to set up a parallel currency to the euro.  Suddenly the Europe to which we are hoping to turn in the event of a No Deal Brexit is beginning to look a little fragile.  Then last week Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is in the U.K. trumpeting the possibility of a trade deal with the U.S., no doubt delighting Boris, although he did play it down and talked earnestly about his European friends.  The point I’m making is that the ground is shifting and as a country we may be on less certain ground than many people thought.

It now looks increasingly obvious that Boris Johnson’s government’s strategy is literally hell or bust.  They have more-or-less written off any hope of a deal with the E.U.  They are now effectively on a war footing with a dual strategy of a crash out, followed by an immediate election.  All their focus will now be on seeing off any parliamentary, political or legal obstacles put in their path.  We will be collateral damage.

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