The year 2017 began with an air of great uncertainty as Britain’s fledgling Prime Minister pondered what to do about article 50, Donald Trump prepared for his inauguration and a series of general elections in Europe threatened to dismantle the European, liberal post-war consensus.
After his inauguration, President Trump announced his intention to impose new sanctions on Iran in February, in addition to a plan to implement a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. By March, EU Council President Donald Tusk held Britain’s article 50 in his hand, saying, “We already miss you”, whilst Nigel Farage toasted the occasion with a beer in his hand saying, “Today’s the day the impossible dream came true.” In the Netherland’s, Geert Wilders failed to capitalise on widespread Euro-scepticism, although his PVV Party became the second largest Party and the official opposition in Parliament.
After a sluggish start to the year, the UK economy picked up pace in Q2, with the dominant services sector outpacing much of the growth seen in 2016. Services firms hired more workers as the employment index rose to 52.7% as rising demand pushed up the need for extra staff. Manufacturing also picked up in April, taking the UK’s combined PMI score to 56 – the highest point in the year so far. Growth in the Eurozone also picked up – its composite PMI (combining services and manufacturing) hit a six-year high of 56.8.
By April, Theresa May had a spring in her step after national polls predicted a massive landslide if she were to call a snap election. A month later, on 5th May, she led the Conservative Party to a self-inflicted disaster, losing her majority, forming a minority government and entering in to a desperate deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
France briefly dallied with Marine Le Pen, who made it to the 2nd round in May. She only managed 34% of the vote in the final round against Emmanuel Macron who came out of nowhere with a brand new political Party, brushing aside the establishment players. France had bucked the trend by electing a centre-left pro-EU President who had already served in Francois Holland’s Treasury. Change…but no change.
The summer saw the stand-off between the USA and North Korea intensify, with Kim Jon-Un launching the country’s first ever intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – capable of carrying a nuclear warhead on July 4th, America’s Independence Day. According to The Sun, the North Korean leader laughed as he fired the missile declaring it was a special “gift for the American bastards.” Trump quickly Tweeted, ‘Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?’
In August, Donald Trump thank Vladimir Putin for a ‘smaller payroll’ after 755 US embassy employees were expelled from Russia in response to Trump imposing new sanctions on Moscow. Trump Tweeted, ‘I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll. We’ll save a lot of money.’
By September, German politics was turned on its head with Angela Merkel’s share of the vote plummeting from a high of 41% in 2013 to only 33%, allowing a far-right Party to enter the Bundestag for the first time since the Second World War. With her main rivals and coalition partners, the Social Democrats SPD, also suffering huge losses, the Chancellor was unable to form a coalition.
As 2017 progressed, the impact of US President Trump’s unusual approach to international relations became ever-clearer. The ‘Doomsday Clock’ ticked forward 30 seconds, bringing the world only 2.5 minutes to midnight and nuclear Armageddon – the closest approach to midnight since 1953. The threat of a new nuclear arms race with Russia intensified after the US President said in October that he wanted the US to have as many nuclear weapons today as it did before signing the non-proliferation treaty in 1968. Kim Jon-Un launched the country’s highest ever ballistic missile, which reached an altitude of 2800 mile – enough to destroy any city in North America.
It wasn’t all bad…
As the year ended, fate delivered some good news. In November, Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign ended after a resignation deal that saw him granted immunity from prosecution and a golden goodbye of $10 million. He leaves behind a broken economy and an impoverished nation. Donald Trump gave America an early Christmas present in December, in the form of a huge cut in income and corporation taxes, designed to rejuvenate the American economy.
Also in December, the first phase of Brexit negotiations ended with a hard-fought deal that protects EU workers rights in the UK and judicial protection from the European Court of Justice (ECJ). And, whilst the deal protects the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and the all-important Good Friday Agreement on the island of Ireland, Brexiteers may soon realise what ‘full alignment’ with EU regulations means…
And finally, … Merry Christmas from Optimus Law! We would like to express our gratitude to all our clients and associates from around the world and wish they enjoy the festive holidays. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with all the latest news, immigration policy changes, Brexit and our training courses.