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David Oliver is a corporate affairs professional based in Toronto

Since the elevation of Boris Johnson to the Prime Ministership of Britain, apparently two things are now both certain: a general election and also a hard no-deal Brexit.

Still, when those around them felt sure they knew what might happen, two very different people in different contexts had these things to say: Harold Macmillan’s purported famous response, “events dear boy,” when asked what was most likely to blow a government off course, and Mike Tyson’s “everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Boris Johnson is looking like he is getting ready for an election. Why? Because he just selected a cabinet which is fit for a campaign. He has also just appointed Dominic Cummings as his de-facto chief of staff (in all but name). This name might be unfamiliar on this side of the pond, but it’s got the British media in a complete lather.

He’s the Grigori Rasputin to Tsar Nick, Rahm Emanuel to Barack Obama, Steve Bannon to Donald Trump. Mr. Cummings is, in the Remainers’ eyes, the evil genius who, as the director of the Vote Leave campaign, delivered the first of two political earthquakes in 2016. He is also highly divisive among Tories, having referred to its European Research Group wing as a “metastasizing tumour" that needed to be excised.

Mr. Johnson will have the same honeymoon that all incoming leaders get. Then Mr. Macmillian’s famous ‘events’ will inevitably take their course.

He will be haunted by the same snap election ghosts of two of his recent predecessors. Gordon Brown bottled it in 2007, one full year before the financial crisis in 2008, which he then paid a heavy price for in 2010. Theresa May went for it in 2017, and paid a heavy price in losing her majority and being completely hamstrung for the next two years, doomed to inevitable failure.

Britain is also now apparently headed for a hard Brexit. Here I invoke Mr. Tyson and his punch in the face. The prevailing narrative by some pundits goes: Mr. Johnson travels to Europe and asks for a new deal, in particular devoid of that pesky Northern Irish backstop that’s caused so much trouble. The EU, this time playing their part of the villain, will say a clear “non” (via chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier).

Mr. Johnson will come back to the United Kingdom and say “See I tried, but they won’t budge and its all their fault. But don’t worry, we’ll be fine on our own, I can deliver all my [un-costed and devoid of detail] plans, and my new mate and that generally awesome dude in the U.S., the lovely Mr. Trump, is going to give us a fantastic trade deal.”

Cue election (around early October a few weeks before Halloween’s Brexit Day), a deal with Nigel Farrage to get him out of the way (Ambassador to the U.S.?), and a majority and mandate to drive through a hard no-deal Brexit before anyone really knows or understands the consequences.

If any of this plays out that way, there are a few things that could derail this. First, our European “partners and friends,” as British politicians patronizingly call them, aren’t stupid. They might see this as a chance to cook Mr. Johnson’s goose, not least by shovelling billions of Euros into Ireland to prop up its economy.

Mr. Johnson, already the man most likely to see the break of Britain with an independent Scotland, might also unwittingly deliver the unification of Ireland at the same time if the Remain-voting North prefer the EU Single Market.

Second, there’s that little issue bubbling away in the Gulf. The Royal Navy is a remnant of what it was, and unable to project power sufficiently to stop Iranian Commandos “having a go” at British-flagged ships whenever they like.

In an almost Black Mirror-esque moment: Britain was hung out to dry by the United States, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying it was the U.K.’s problem to sort out. Britain went, tail between legs, to its EU “friends and partners” for help. (It will be interesting to see how that one will play out when Britain decides to stick it to its European ‘friends and partners’ again later in the summer).

Whatever the state of our politics at the moment on both sides of the pond, we live in a complex and dynamic world, with all its events and punches in the face. Simple answers and bright new visions will only go so far to ride these until they inevitably unravel and leave us no further ahead in answering some of the very grave challenges we face.

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