Why Brexit is still undefined

British Prime minister Theresa May gives a press conference on the second day of a European Union leaders summit in October 2016 Image copyright STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

It is a curious moment in British politics. The government is facing the most important negotiations in over 50 years. The outcome will shape the future of the UK economy - but you would not necessarily know it.

The consumers - the voters - appear to be shrugging off the uncertainties, the unknowns and the warnings of future risks.

Many economists had predicted that a vote to leave the EU would tip Britain into recession. Instead, after six months, the UK is on track to be the fastest growing economy in the G7. Orders in the manufacturing sector are expanding at the fastest rate in 25 years.

Consumers are acting "almost as though the referendum had not taken place" asserts Andy Haldane, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England.

The economic forecasters are on the defensive or taking a turn in the confessional, admitting that the forecasting profession "is to some extent in crisis". It is a reminder of what I was once told - that economics is not a science but the politics of money.

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The world in 2017: The battle of ideas

A metal globe Image copyright PhotoDisk/Eyewire

2016 was the year of the unravelling. Norms were dispensed with. Old ideas were challenged and discarded. Our settled world was shaken and we became used to the shock of the new.

Since World War Two, and earlier, there was a consensus that trade was about much more than just economics. It was an instrument for peace. Reducing trade barriers sparked growth and prosperity. That consensus is creaking.

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The Brexit puzzle

  • 21 December 2016
  • From the section Brexit
A European Union flag, with a hole cut in the middle Image copyright Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The year ends with a Brexit puzzle: a multi-coloured cube that, however twisted and turned, defies easy solution.

Six months on from the UK referendum, the process of leaving the EU is enveloped by a cloud of unknowing.

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Why Italy's vote matters

  • 5 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Image copyright EPA

In the year of political upheavals, there has been another popular uprising - this time in Italy.

Here is how the narrative goes: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is the establishment figure. He has gambled on holding a referendum to win backing for his reforms. He loses, and resigns.

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Europe's dangerous milestones

  • 29 November 2016
  • From the section Europe
Flags of the European Union fly outside the European Parliament Image copyright Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The dates stretch out over the months ahead; days in the calendar that could define Europe's values and shape the future of liberal democracy.

In the shadow of Donald Trump's victory and - to a lesser extent - Brexit, Europe faces a series of crucial votes. Although some of the anti-establishment strains in Europe are different from those in America, many of them are the same and equally potent.

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America: The people's rage

Anti-Trump demonstration in Manhattan Image copyright Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In Manhattan from mid-town to Central Park, the city is choked with frustrated drivers. Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue, where the president-elect is building his administration, has become a venue for demonstrators.

There are flash protests with signs like "Immigrants welcome". Office workers gaze down, some pump their fists in support.

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US election 2016: America's date with destiny

US Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Donald Trump Image copyright Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This long, bruising campaign is drawing to a close. America is holding its breath as to what follows. The political divide is deep.

A significant part of the country views Donald Trump as a thin-skinned narcissist, with a loose understanding of the truth, ignorant of international affairs and comfortable with causing offence.

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America's 'rigged' election

An absentee ballot featuring voting options for the US presidential election Image copyright SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump tweeted that there would not be another day as good as last Friday.

In his view the announcement that the FBI was reviewing new material in the Hillary Clinton emails inquiry "changes everything". He called on his supporters to "prevent her taking her criminal scheme into the White House".

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Trump faithful undeterred by polls and scandals

US presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs a US flag Image copyright Reuters

It is the final stretch of a brash, improbable campaign. Donald Trump is rolling through Florida's campaign stops; places like St Augustine, Tampa, Sanford, Tallahassee. It is a state he must win if he is to have a chance of claiming the White House.

His voice is a little weaker but he draws energy from large fired-up crowds who break into chants of "USA! USA!" In St Augustine, people were queuing from 10:00 for a 15:00 speech.

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Europe's phoney war

  • 18 October 2016
  • From the section Europe
A Union Jack pictured next to the European Union flag Image copyright PA

There is an air of unreality hanging over Europe. This week, Theresa May will attend her first EU summit. Headlines will be eked out of the leaders' sound bites as they enter the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels.

But everyone knows that it won't be until next year that the EU and the UK fully engage and negotiate Brexit.

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