Over the years the United Kingdom has produced some world class footballers. Players like Northern Irishman George Best, Scotsman Kenny Dalglish, and Welsh duo Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale would have fitted into any British team, perhaps any international team. At some point global soccer fans realise that there is no British national team, but instead the country enters not two, not even three, but four national teams into major tournaments. This year the country had three teams qualify for the European Championship. Wales and Scotland have been knocked out while England have progressed to the knockout stages and face Ukraine on Saturday.
In rugby too the UK enters multiple national teams into tournaments along with a combined Irish team. Once every four years however these intertwine to form the British and Irish Lions. This formidable team goes on tour to Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. To prepare for their forthcoming three match series against, World Champions, South Africa the Lions spent time on the beautiful island of Jersey. This caused much excitement here with little doubt, locally at least, that the diet of our special Jersey Royal potatoes will prove to be an advantage in the scum. My family is from all parts of the UK and win, lose or draw the Lions tend to provide a great spectacle and display of unity.
The nations within the United Kingdom are not displaying such signs of unity. Trouble continues to brew with Northern Ireland, which following Brexit faces difficulties of customs unions with Ireland. Scotland saw the SNP and Green party, both of which support independence, win 72 of the 129 seats in recent parliamentary elections. England remains by a distance the powerhouse of the British economy. Scotland provided a big impetus to the U.K. economy during the North Sea oil boom and before that Wales provided large amounts of coal. Looking forwards with the country decarbonising it is more likely to be technological breakthroughs from intellectual capital that might provide economic arguments to stay together. The drive towards self-determination remains strong. Regional governments and sports teams might not provide sufficient national identity for some. We must all hope for peaceful resolution in Northern Ireland which probably requires capitulation by either the British or EU on some issues to prevent a hard border with Ireland. In any event such are the importance of trading relations, frictionless borders within mainland UK are likely to continue. With the country continuing to see benefits from vaccine roll outs, and with depressed valuations following Brexit uncertainty, we believe UK shares remain well positioned to perform.
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