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Warning: Brexit. My house, my opinion. Feel free to skip.

And so one of the finest dark comedies ever created has come to an end. But sadly, while we’ll see no more of Fleabag, we’ll get yet another season of Brexit: Britain Breaking Badly.

At least the schedulers are in on the joke. The new cliffhanger is set for 31 October – Halloween. Talk about comic noir.

You can’t make this stuff up. The last episode culminated with patriotic Brexiteers blaming the Queen for the dire state of Brexit. Nothing would surprise me now.

A polar bear strolling around Westminister? ERG members cooking meth in a taco truck on the South Bank?

Bring it on.

The Shining

Rising above another week of political misery, however, was one bravely recanting Leave supporter.

Peter Oborne – a former Brexit cheerleader for the Daily Mailwrote:

Brexit has paralysed the system. It has turned Britain into a laughing stock. And it is certain to make us poorer and to lead to lower incomes and lost jobs.

We Brexiteers would be wise to acknowledge all this. It’s past time we did. We need to acknowledge, too, that that we will never be forgiven if and when Brexit goes wrong. Future generations will look back at what we did and damn us.

So I argue, as a Brexiteer, that we need to take a long deep breath. We need to swallow our pride, and think again.

Maybe it means rethinking the Brexit decision altogether.

Oborne presents a laundry list as to why Brexit has failed to-date – and why it was probably a doomed project to begin with.

Obviously I agree with him, but I’d rather buy him a pint than listen to Remainers asking what took him so long. Any Leave voters coming to their senses deserve a smile not “I told you so”.

After all, Oborne’s volte-face is what Remain voters daily expect from the Leave contingent. Surely with the empty promises of the Leave leadership revealed as student political fantasy, ever more will want to call the whole thing off?

You’d think so. Yet in reality – indeed faced with reality – few seem to be changing their minds.

Perhaps that was why Oborne’s piece struck a chord. It wasn’t so much what he was saying – the case against Brexit is plain enough. It’s what the rest of the 17.4m are not saying.

Much more typical is this response I received on Twitter to one of my (doubtless tedious) anti-Brexit tweets:

Brexit would have been easy if the Commission had acted in good faith, the PM believed in ‘Leave’ and understood how to negotiate, MPs honoured manifesto commitments and the civil service and metropolitan elites weren’t determined to undermine the referendum. So much 4 democracy!

Such sentiment is rampant on social media. But you also see it in newspaper interviews and on TV.

One Brexiteer debating with Oborne even said on live TV that she thought Oborne might be a plant or that he’d been bought off.

The same woman said “not a single person has changed their mind” while standing next to this man who had clearly changed his mind.

It’s Orwellian stuff.

The Thing

Then again – rounding up to the nearest million – perhaps she’s right.

Three years in and Leavers still don’t understand the EU is an extremely powerful trading bloc, doing the business on behalf of its several hundred million citizens. They still don’t admit that as one nation against more than two dozen we don’t “hold all the cards”. They still don’t admit they had no plan.

Instead we just hear claims that a True Brexiteer would have negotiated a better outcome. This despite the fact that Brexit extremists can’t even negotiate with their own party – and caved in to vote for a deal they lamented days before as ‘vassalage’.

These are not serious people.

There’s also no admission Brexit has already cost the UK £66bn according to S&P.

As I’ve warned before, the economic price of any Brexit will show up mostly in a lower GDP like this, for the foreseeable future – maybe decades. It’s pretty much guaranteed by the laws of economics.

Not a bang, but a wimpier UK PLC.

It won’t be something you can photograph or stick on a bus though, so they’ll blame something else. Or someone else.

The Omen

Meanwhile the prophet Farage is readying his followers for a new political push to the sunlit uplands.

And the man who once told his followers to ignore “clever people” who warned that smoking was bad for you will find plenty of credulous takers.

How is this still possible?

There’s little point reasoning with the Barry Blimps, of course. But I don’t believe there are 17m Blimps in the UK.

There are however plenty who believed what the likes of Farage said in 2016 – statements since revealed to be mostly at best fantasies and at worst lies.

Yet instead of thinking again, the more vocal Leave supporters are doubling down and calling for a no-deal exit. It’s profoundly depressing.

I do have time – as I’ve said repeatedly – for sovereignty-first Leave voters1 who accept the economic cost of Brexit and who own the motley coalition that made up the 52% rather than denying it. Such people are rare, however.

And while I personally want to see a new Referendum informed by everything we’ve learned over the past 30 months, I used to concede a soft Brexit might be better than no Brexit, for the sake of national coherence.

But I’m less sure of that today.

Most Leavers are willfully ignoring the unfolding evidence. They will never be happy. Any deal will be a ‘betrayal’ of the impossibilities they were promised, while a disruptive no-deal will be the fault of the other side for not landing a deal.

What’s the point in indulging them – and in all of us paying for it?

As for the investing consequences, it seems everything is still on the table. Even a no-deal Brexit – hitherto dodged, both in theory and in practice – could yet come about, though it now seems the unlikeliest outcome.

I discussed the ramifications of different Brexits in a previous post. Have a look there for more.

Have a great weekend!

From Monevator

What is a sustainable withdrawal rate for a world portfolio? – Monevator

From the archive-ator: The surprisingly savage way tax reduces your returns – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!2

Labour considers house price inflation target for Bank of England – Guardian

OECD says the world’s Millennials are being squeezed out of the middle class – CNBC

Thinking about having a baby? Don’t forget to do the maths first [Search result]FT

‘That’s legal tender, pal’: bill aims to force shops to take Scottish notes – Guardian

US college graduates sell stake in themselves to Wall Street – Bloomberg

At least some of the 0.01% are waking up to the US wealth distribution problem – Barry Ritholz

Products and services

Reminder: Rolled-over NS&I index-linked certificates will track CPI instead of RPI from 1 May – NS&I

Freetrade app review – Quietly Saving

Eight steps to creating the perfect LinkedIn profile – ThisIsMoney

What is a ‘portfolio ISA’ wrapper and who offers them? – ThisIsMoney

NatWest offers table-topping £175 current account welcome bonus, plus 2% cashback on bills – T.I.M.

Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter

How to track down the fate of an old building society account – ThisIsMoney

Selftrade’s stocks and shares ISA is now flexible [Was emailed, no web story]Selftrade

We both get a £50 credit if you invest £500 within 30 days on Seedrs via my link – Seedrs

Homes for sale that were once a pub [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

What’s your investment faith? – Morningstar

You have to live it to believe it – Morgan Housel

The secret life of an armchair trader [Search result]FT

What to do when it feels like you’ve hit the wall in your financial progress – The Simple Dollar

Sequence of returns risk and the (un)luckiest generations – A Wealth of Common Sense

My First Million: Paul Tustain, founder of BullionVault [Search result]FT

The money we don’t talk about – Of Dollars and Data

“I set myself up as a virtual assistant after I had a brain tumour”Guardian

The world’s oldest people don’t stress about (or even save much) money – Next Avenue

The definition of prosperity needs a rethink – Financial Samurai

Why Vanguard’s push into commodity futures isn’t as exciting as it seems – RCM Alternatives

Thoughts from Seth Klarman: The Oracle of Boston – Humble Dollar

Rightmove’s shares look dear,  but could yet be good value such is its quality – UK Value Investor


Civil servants stand down no-deal planning after spending £1.5bn – Politics Home

Britain already £66bn poorer due to Brexit – Metro

Brexit exposes painful disconnect between England and Britain – Bloomberg

Personal relationships and the Brexit divide – Mariella Frostrup

Daily Telegraph forced to correct false Brexit claim by Boris Johnson – Guardian

“Brexit is the will of the people who were lied to” [Video] – James O’Brien via Twitter

Through the Brexit looking glass – Simple Living in Somerset

Amazon Kindle and Spring Sale bargains

How to Have A Good Day by Caroline Webb – £0.99 on Kindle

Eat Well for Less by Jo Scarratt-Jones- £1.99 on Kindle

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens – £1.39 on Kindle

What You See is What You Get by Alan Sugar – £0.99 on Kindle

Get three months of Amazon Music for free if you sign up before 19 April – Amazon

Amazon’s Spring Sale also touting TWO free audio books with its Audible trial – Amazon

Off our beat

Mysterious infection spanning the world in climate of secrecy – New York Times

Why are walruses walking off cliffs to their deaths? – The Atlantic

Black hole – first ever image, how it was assembled with an algorithm, inevitable controversy [Video]

The hidden meanings you might have missed in FleabagThe Tab

And finally…

“The trick is not to learn to trust your gut feelings, but rather to discipline yourself to ignore them.”
– Peter Lynch, One Up On Wall Street

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  1. Even if I see such max-sovereignty as a hollow victory in practice, and Britain ultimately weaker post-Brexit in terms of most of the measures of power that matter in 2019. At least sovereignty is credible argument.
  2. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.

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