It seems this week there have been a number of reminders for politicians and businesses that they can’t have their cake and eat it too:
First, senior officials at the EU were reportedly rubbishing the Shadow Brexit team’s ‘commitment’ to retaining single market benefits whilst demanding restrictions on the free movement of people. One member of the European Commission dismissed Labour’s plan as ‘cakeism’. Things were little better with the actual Brexit team, Theresa May narrowly escaping (324 to 298) a Commons defeat by offering a last-minute concession giving MPs a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final deal. This simultaneously makes a no-deal with the EU both less and more likely by providing an internal vote against the most economically damaging of proposals whilst weakening the Government’s potential to reach the best deal possible. Increasingly, it feels like the Brexit negotiations may leave Britain with no cake to have or eat either.
Down the road, Pimlico Plumbers lost an appeal at the Supreme Court, which found today in favour of ‘Mr Smith’ having employee rights despite being contracted as self-employed. The ’gig-economy’ start-ups and unicorns/‘decacorns’ (+$1bn / +$10bn private valuations) will certainly have a lot more to worry about after having built billion-dollar-empires profiting off the backs’ of individuals without sharing the usual business and personal risks.
Lastly, across the pond, an already once politically resurrected Mark Sanford (who himself may have been President had the dice rolled differently) was the second incumbent Republican Congress casualty this year (after Robert Pittenger) as a result of his sustained invective against his Commander-In-Chief – showing that increasingly one can’t oppose a twitter-demagogue and expect to maintain GOP voters’ patronage. It’s a reminder of Trump’s support-base that persists despite his bombardment of hyperbole and self-aggrandising because he is seen to be getting things done. Today’s premature proclamation that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” is a great example of this, with many forgetting that the ‘dealmaker’ turned peacemaker just signed an agreement that is almost identical to one signed between US and DPRK 25 years’ ago (11 June 1993). Perhaps Trump is the exception to the rule. Perhaps Trump can continue to do and say what he wants and not be held accountable; perhaps he can achieve little progress during his first-term and still get re-elected; perhaps Trump is the one exception to the ‘cakeism’ rule. Perhaps; perhaps not.