We’re not living in an age when the mighty are falling. We’re living in one in which the puny are rising.
First Donald Trump becomes the leader of the free world. Now his floppy-haired UK doppelgänger has become our PM. The bumbling buffoon to Trump’s dangerous idiot, Boris Johnson has the unenviable task of trying to succeed where Theresa May so miserably failed – and deliver Brexit. He was the least worst option supposedly.
Ah well, at least like Trump, this parody of a politician is a man of action who understands what people really want, gets things done – and waves kippers around when he berates the European Union for rules that it emerges were imposed by British rather than Brussels bureaucrats.
Sadly, we can’t just say: ‘Beam me up Scotty.’ We have to make the best of it, which is exactly what senior industry figures tried to do this week on the news of Johnson’s victory over Jeremy Hunt. The responses to his appointment were full of neutral, carefully chosen words of the ‘we look forward to constructive dialogue with’ variety.
Many had stared so long into the half-empty glass that it had started to look half full. They noted that Johnson is keen to reform stamp duty and business rates, wants to cut corporation tax, likes big infrastructure projects (excluding Heathrow) and is a fan of devolution – although mentions of these were largely absent from his first speech.
That, however, was before the extent of the cabinet cull/exodus became clear and the initial flurry of prepared press releases was replaced by slack-jawed email silence. It can be no coincidence that it was as hot as Hades when Johnson kicked off his premiership with a ‘reshuffle’ dubbed a “summer’s day massacre” by leave-backing Tory MP Nigel Evans.
One of the departures was housing, communities and local government secretary James Brokenshire, who did not achieve a huge amount during his year and a bit at the helm, but then again who did faced with the almighty distraction that is Brexit?
While Brexit remains the only game in town, we will remain in this excruciating limbo. As for the deal itself, only a fool would think they could deliver a universally palatable version by 31 October. Oh, wait a minute…
As well as being the week our political world was turned upside down once more and, almost as memorably, a seagull snatched poor Gizmo the Chihuahua, this week also marked my fifth anniversary at Property Week. I had a quick look at the stories we ran in the magazine back in July 2014 and it really is a case of plus ça change.
There I was talking about diversity and remarking how improved the industry was on that score compared with 2003 when I left PW after my first stint. We also ran stories on market activity slowing amid fears over Scottish independence and on the London property market calling for the UK to remain in the EU.
If only… if only.