John Cassidy in the New Yorker looks at Theresa May’s challenges ahead. He suggests that May’s term of office will be defined by how she deals with two issues: Brexit and the economy.
May has provided the ‘A – Team’ for handling Brexit, with David Davis leading, Liam Fox in charge of international trade and Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary – all three were prominent Brexit supporters. Johnson’s appointment was not expected and will be intensely debated in the coming months. But the lead negotiator will be Theresa May – as a pastor’s daughter, like Angela Merkel, with a similar personality and work ethic, it is important that the two leaders can work effectively together.
The second major issue is the economy. It is suggested that the Hon. George Osborne was unceremoniously fired with the suggested that his divisive form of economic leadership was no longer required. Philip Hammond, formerly Foreign Secretary, replaces Osborne. Unlike most UK Chancellors, Hammond studied economics at Oxford in his PPE degree. Hammond is regarded as a safe-pair of hands, hard-working and has a liking for spreadsheets. Hammond will introduce his first budget in the Autumn and it will be interesting to see how his policies differ from those of Osborne. Remember the UK has high levels of debt and is sensitivity to the opinions of rating agencies and financial markets. Personally, I hope that Hammond will signal the way to:
- Greater investment in the UK, both in the public and private sectors, with additional incentives for poorer areas
- Massive incentives to reskill and retrain, especially foreign languages
- Huge incentives to exporters and people who gain work experience overseas
- Massive consolidation and rationalization of the public sector
- Reduction of corporation tax but a crack-down on the abusive tactics of multi-nationals