Ten predictions for 2018

BY Andrew Lilico   /  2 January 2018

1)  The economy will chug along much as over the previous three years, growing at around 1½-2%. Inflation will fall back a bit, slightly faster than expected but still stay above 2 per cent for most of the year. Unemployment will stay at around four-decade lows. The key economic change will be two interest rate rises. The pound will strengthen a bit more across the year, on a trade-weighted basis.

2) The Brexit negotiations will yield agreement in principle on “transition” arrangements to end-December 2020 and there will be broad in-principle agreement on a new free trade agreement between the UK and EU covering goods and at least some services. The agreement covering financial services will not be as comprehensive as some leaks from the UK government suggested we had hoped and the FTA will be scheduled to be agreed only in-principle by March 2019, with some details still to be worked out subsequently. This will be spun in much of the pro-Remain UK media as an abject defeat – indeed humiliation – for the UK government, demonstrating the hugely asymmetric nature of the Brexit negotiations and how foolish any country is to hope ever to leave the EU, with others hailing Mrs May’s efforts to “face down” the “hard line Brexiteers” in her own party “agitating for no deal”, adopting a “realistic” position of accepting the UK’s “fundamental weakness”. Meanwhile, since behind the rhetoric the UK government will have achieved all the negotiating objectives Brexiteers cared about, actual Brexiteers (as opposed to Remainers speaking on their behalf) will be more-than-content with how things proceed.

3) There will be no General Election. There will be no change in the Conservative leadership, but a number of candidates will start to emerge as the main alternatives to Mrs May post-April-2019, which will become increasingly seen as the date for Mrs May to depart. Jeremy Hunt will drift back into the frame as a centrist option that both Team May and ex-team Cameron might support. Michael Gove will be increasingly urged to stand but will continue to protest that he is not an option. Jacob Rees-Mogg and James Cleverly will be promoted in a re-shuffle and be marked ever-more as “ones-to-watch” for the future.

4)  The new German government will be committed to the establishment of a Single European State within ten years. There will be a special EU summit and a joint statement of intent by the governments of Germany, France and Italy. The governments of the Netherlands, Austria and Finland will publicly dissent.

5)  The first self-driving lorry convoys will be seen on UK roads. There will be driverless delivery vehicles in the US.

6)  Online GP appointments will go mainstream, with private sector online appointments being so cheap and so much more rapid than NHS appointments (typically less than a ten minute wait) that some futurists start speculating that online private doctors will replace NHS GPs much as private dentistry has destroyed NHS dentistry. The first serious attempts to make NHS variants function will come by the end of the year.

7) After many previous cancellations, the first commercial space flights will finally go ahead, though probably not by Virgin Galactic. More probably SpaceX.

8) A virtual reality based game, using a head-up display variant of the Pokemon Go concept, will be widely discussed. There will be several notorious accidents caused by virtual reality players using their HUDs whilst driving.

9) After some umm-ing and ah-ing, the World Cup will go ahead. England will make the semi-finals, after winning a penalty shoot-out. Harry Kane will win the Golden Boot.

10)  The North Korean regime will fall in a military coup after North Korean generals refuse to carry out Kim Jong-un’s orders for a nuclear strike in response to a huge US air-, missile- and space-based weapons strike which will reveal that the US has military technologies not previously discussed.