Book that Skiing Holiday. Brexit Will All Be Over When You Return*

We reported on 15 February that Brexit fears were causing shockwaves in the outbound to Europe holiday industry – especially the ski-industry, focused as it is over the winter months (ie now – but you knew that already eh?) See Skiing Holidays to Tumble Downhill After Brexit

Our spies in the Alps tell us that the snow is great, and all the indecision in Westminster is affecting trade. Bookings are down – such that the usual end-of-season bargains are even better than usual..

Today at the Olympic Express – from www.snapmyride.com

Snow is good. This picture is from today’s webcam of the famous Olympic Express gondola in Meribel.

And just to show how much British trade is appreciated, the local Mayors are organising a warm demonstration at Bourg Saint Maurice train station on Saturday morning, 6 April, as reported in BoardSportSource.com. Famed as the arrival point for overnight trains, this town is only 20 minutes from the resorts. The overnight train is a much more civilised way to travel – and gives a full Saturday in the resort rather than turning up at 4pm after an early flight and long bus ride. Hmm, the thought of a bacon sandwich makes me want to book it now. They should do that every Saturday. It could be useful next year, as we queue up at Passport Control!

* Maybe Brexit might possibly not be sorted by next week. So it probably won’t be sorted when you return – unless you stay out there for a couple of years. And who could blame you for that?

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Two Hours in Strasbourg Resolves Brexit! (Not)

Forget about Relate, ACAS or all of the thousands of arbitrators and facilitators. Has your divorce, or workplace negotiation, boundary dispute or EU Withdrawal Agreement gotten nowhere in the last two and a half years? Clearly what you need is an evening in Strasbourg.

Pretty Strasbourg
Theresa of London
Jean-Claude of Brussels

Theresa of London had been travelling to Brussels to resolve an awkward tiff with her estranged partner Jean-Claude. Despite months of trying, she had achieved nothing but a trying time. Bringing in her lawyer Geoffrey and her “fixer” Oli had made matters worse. But two hours with Jean-Claude in the magical surroundings of Strasbourg has made all the difference.

 

Back to reality!

Sadly, in the cold light of day, what seemed like a wonderful way forward in the French moonlight now feels like a mistake. Will Theresa ever learn not to give so much away without more commitment? First it was her £39bln exchanged for nothing more than a vague promise of goodwill. Now she has bet everything on a “legally-binding” complementary document.

European Parliament Building in Strasbourg

Will she regret giving her trust by tonight? Sadly, once this morning’s euphoria wears off, we feel Theresa won’t make it across the line this evening. We know and love the phrase “It’s a long shot but it might just work”. But those advocating gambling on long-odds horses should ship out to Cheltenham for the Festival. By definition, the chances are that you will lose! It was a sterling effort by Mrs May, and like nearly all the real people in this country, we just want it over. Will the DUP change their minds – and will Bill Cash and his star-chamber of lawyers change their minds? We can’t quite see it.

Cheltenham Festival starts today
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Skiing Holidays to Tumble Downhill after Brexit?

Could your future chalet team be from East Europe rather than East Moseley or East Sheen?

The prospect of a No-Deal or Fig-Leaf Deal Brexit has left our outbound holiday industry with huge challenges.  The French (and most EU) work permit/ visa rules for third countries are inevitably costly, complex, cumbersome and slow.  For a seasonal team, this means significant extra costs, and extra-special concerns about mid-season resignations needing quick replacements.

A pressure group called Seasonal Businesses In Travel, http://sbit.org.uk/  has been created to represent the whole outbound travel industry.  SBIT has been warning for months that “a poorly negotiated Brexit that fails to take into account the importance of the seamless transition of staff, resources and finances for the outbound travel industry will certainly mean a loss of jobs, of competitiveness of UK travel companies and an increase in holiday prices for the travelling public.”

 At this late stage, it is hard to consider the Brexit deal as anything other than “poorly negotiated!.

Karen Broom Smith

Karen Broom Smith, founder member of SBIT and MD of luxury ski holiday provider Purple Ski commented “Many companies were worried about how we could even finish the season without facing huge fines or prison sentences for having illegal workers – though thankfully we’ve had informal reassurances from the French authorities, who seem to  taken on the business-focus and pragmatism that we British have cast off, that this won’t happen – but exactly what needs to be done to ensure we can continue to provide our top-flight ski holidays next winter is unclear.”

Doubtlessly these holiday companies will struggle on through at the cutting edge of the Brexit challenge. See https://www.purpleski.com/

So there it is.  For goodness sake Mrs May, get Brexit sorted, at least a Fig-Leaf Deal to cover the essentials, or we might have to miss going skiing next winter.  That could only mean the Tory Party prospects going downhill fast – and taking a wipe-out!

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FTSE100 Still Going Higher Despite Brexit Chaos

It is time for another 6 month forecast for FTSE100. We continue to see a much stronger stock market in London.

In January, when shares were at 6855, we stuck our necks out (a very long way given present uncertainty) and forecast FTSE at 8050 by 15 July.

See http://londonmarketcomment.co.uk/uk-equities/uk-equities-ftse100-up-to-8050-in-6-months/

As of last night, the index was at 7129. So I guess that is so far so good – though it is way too soon to start crowing about our success. Who do you think I am, Donald J Trump? He rather unwisely took the credit last spring when the Dow was flying. He’s been untypically silent on the subject since it retraced!

Over the month since our last forecast, well pretty much nothing has changed. Brexit is still the same. Unsurprisingly, UK growth was slightly softer in December. The US economy had good employment numbers, the EU economy was totally flat, who knows about China? Inflation was falling in general.

So we still see small upticks as Brexit nears the Fig-Leaf-Deal that we continue to expect. It was pleasing that Andrea Leadsom on Radio 4 described such an outcome today – though she didn’t give it our slightly derogative name.

Once the Brexit risk is settled, we see a relief rally in the late spring – and then sideways over the summer. Thus our forecast for August is the same as we called for on 15 July.

We see FTSE on 15 August at 8050.

It’s not very headline-worthy saying that we think the same as we did last month is it? Oh well, if you want excitement, I suggest that instead of market-watching, you take up kite-surfing instead.

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Could The Cheltenham Festival be Cancelled due to Equine Flu?

Might there be no Gold Cup this year?

There seems to be some conflicting information around. On one hand, we are told that Equine Flu is endemic through the UK, despite complete vaccination. And yet the outbreak at Donald McCain’s stable in Cheshire caused the cancellation of all racing across the country.

The latest news is that the compulsory testing has identified an outbreak in Newmarket. The two stables are totally unconnected, with no overlap of their horses at meetings recently. With one focussing on jumps and the other on the flat, it seems unlikely that there is even a two-degrees-of-separation connection.

All this supports the contention that equine flu is endemic.

So what is to be done? Will the current ban be extended on an open-ended basis? The Cheltenham Festival starts 4 weeks tomorrow. If the industry is serious about controlling the spread of flu, then the shutdown could easily be extended for a number of weeks.

However, the finances say “no”. Such a delay would be devastating to an industry that sometimes struggles to make a return anyway.

So our view is that a limited return to racing will occur within a couple of weeks, maybe restricted to stables that have been passed as clear. So we see the Gold Cup going ahead after all. Better buy back all those gambling shares you just sold!

For the latest news, please check https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/cheltenham/events-tickets/the-festival/

Oh dear, this article has turned into a “Could something really bad happen?…………….……..er, No” type piece. Not great journalism – I should apply for a job on a tabloid!

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