Every year, Edelman UK hosts the Crystal Ball Breakfast, in which a panel of notable individuals in fields ranging from culture and society, to economics come together to predict what the coming year will hold. Now in its 8th year, this year on 2nd December an impressive panel came together to share their thoughts on what will make headlines in 2016. The impressive line up included: comedian, author and TV presenter Sue Perkins: Editor at The Times, John Witherow; Member of the House of Lords, Baroness Tessa Jowell; ICAP CEO, Michael Spencer and Ed Williams, CEO, Edelman UK & Ireland. The discussion was moderated by Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark.

Kicking off the discussion, all panelists were in agreement that unpredictability is in fact becoming more predictable and we now live in a world where anything can change from one moment to the next. A number mentioned that this time last year the prospect of an all-Conservative Government, and Corbyn as Labour leader were little more than unlikely possibilities.

Despite this, the panelists made confident predictions that took a largely international theme, including: the potential exit of the UK from the European Union and therefore the subsequent possible split of Scotland from the UK; the US presidential elections; the performance of global economies; the migrant crisis; and the continued war on terror in the Middle East. The panel also discussed a resurgence in traditional news media, commercial viability of the music and film industry, Jeremy Corbyn’s position as leader of the Labour Party and the rise of young activists campaigning in the UK. Sue Perkins’ tongue-in-cheek predictions for baking trends provided some light-hearted relief.

The predictions included:

  • The end of nasty television and the talent programme format
  • The future of television to be at the heart of public debate
  • An end to ‘arm chair activism’ and an increase in public demonstrations
  • US rates will move from 0% to 1%, which will trigger a strong rise in the US dollar
  • The Euro will be below parity to the dollar during 2016, making it an economically beneficial time to invest in Europe
  • The price of oil will continue to fall
  • The prospect of Donald Trump becoming US President cannot be categorically ruled out
  • Jeremy Corbyn will see challengers to his leadership, however will still be leader by the end of 2016
  • The Labour party will have to choose between being a party of protest or a party of government
  • The Queen will abdicate and we will see King Charles take to the throne
  • ISIS will continue to flourish and terror will continue for the foreseeable future
  • There will be controversy around the invasion of privacy by drones, but also innovation from the contribution drones can make to the medical and aid sectors
  • The Chinese economy will struggle, along with the price of oil and metals
  • The future of the UK’s membership within the EU is still unknown – the panel were split on what the public’s decision will be
  • Following on from a Brexit, another Scottish referendum would be inevitable
  • Money can be made in the music and film industries as Adele’s recent album sales figures and cinema ticket sales for Spectre prove
  • There won’t be a concrete resolution to the complex situation in Syria
  • A resurgence of traditional news media, including increased sales of print
  • The housing crisis is the biggest crisis facing young people, particularly in London, and needs to urgently be addressed
  • The crisis in the Middle East is nothing to do with a masculine reaction to feminism, it is to do with people who feel disenfranchised and ancient tribal wounds


  • Sue Perkins, Comedian, Author and TV Presenter
  • John Witherow, Editor, The Times
  • Dame Tessa Jowell, Member of the House of Lords
  • Michael Spencer, CEO, ICAP
  • Ed Williams, CEO, Edelman

The discussion was moderated by broadcaster Kirsty Wark.