This is traditionally the time of year look ahead to what 2021 might hold. To make bold predictions with an air of certainty and a firm hope that everyone will have forgotten them in 12 months’ time, or that you get at least something right that you can cling onto.
With the craziness that accompanied the lead up to Brexit many politicos, even respected in-the-know journalists like Laura Kuenssberg gave up trying to predict events. The pandemic has only compounded the unpredictability of what might happen.
While I have made predictions as part of my regular columns throughout the year (most of which – pandemic aside – I’d say have been reasonably ok), this month I’m inviting you to choose some yourself. So, here’s an optimist’s and pessimist’s list, depending on whether you’re a glass half-empty or full kind of person! Which side do you fall? Do you have other predictions? I’d love to hear them.
In the meantime, as Boris has refused to ‘cancel Christmas’ (at the time of writing) against the urgings of many in the medical community, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and safe festive season. Here’s to a healthy and more normal 2021.
|The Optimist||The Pessimist|
|A Brexit deal is done at the last minute, delivering tariff- and quota-free trade and enabling the provision of services. Goods and data flow smoothly.||The UK and EU are unable to reach a deal and relations become acrimonious. Ports become blocked. Fresh food, medicine and other shortages become acute.|
|The EU grants reciprocal equivalence for financial services on the same basis that the UK has.||A string of UK-based manufacturers announce plans to scale back or exit production.|
|More vaccines are approved, levels of vaccine hesitancy decline, the rate of Covid-related deaths fall quickly, and we reach effective herd immunity by the summer. Music festivals go ahead!||Covid-19 vaccines are not as effective in the elderly as hoped. Vaccine hesitancy / take-up means herd immunity can’t be reached.|
|The economy rebounds strongly and unemployment starts to fall. Big tax rises are avoided (for now) and the government incentivises private investment for growth.||Unemployment continues to rise and consumer confidence worsens, slowing economic recovery. Big tax rises to stabilise the public finances serve to choke off and delay economic recovery.|
|The Northern Ireland Protocol works smoothly. Peace and cross-party government are maintained. The chances of the break-up of the United Kingdom fall.||The SNP gets a mandate for another independence referendum, anti-Brexit sentiment in Northern Ireland strengthens and the future of the Union comes seriously into question.|
|Headline terms for an ambitious trade deal with the US are agreed.||SARS-CoV-2 mutates in a way that renders current vaccines ineffective. Government attempts to impose further lockdowns lead to social unrest and defeat in Parliament.|