Countdown to Brexit – The outlook for Gold
Welcome to the BullionByPost 'Countdown to Brexit'. Here we will post daily digests of the latest Brexit news, and how it's impacting upon the Pound, the gold price, and the UK economy. You can also stay in the loop by signing up for our weekly email newsletters via the homepage or by browsing our News section.
The Forecast for Gold
There are three Brexit scenarios that can occur, and each one has a different outcome for gold bullion demand and subsequently prices. Below we explain our understanding of investor behaviour, and how those seeking to preserve their wealth will act.
The fear for investors is that a No-Deal Brexit leaves the UK isolated and unable to trade properly. If companies cease to trade at the same levels - because of regulations, tariffs, supply access, and work visas - then they become less productive and less profitable, and less worthy of investment.
No Deal has a strong likelihood on the basis of political disagreement; members within the Conservative Party want to remain, want a soft Brexit, and want a hard Brexit. Indecision and a failure to unify will hinder the acceptance of any deal, and even if it skips the party and lands on parliament, there limited chance a deal would be accepted by the Commons.
The fear surrounding such an event has already seen spikes in the gold price. Last month, following the Salzburg Summit 'ambush' of Theresa May, the Pound went down and gold went up - first from £901 to £915 per ounce, and within a few days it had climbed further to £930 per ounce.
Prediction: Investors are quick to act, and the bandwagon effect is strong. If the UK & EU cannot agree a deal then we should see a snowball effect of demand plus a very weak Pound Sterling pushing gold's price up anywhere north of £1,200 per ounce.
Also known as a Hard Brexit, this is the preferred agreement for many members of the UK Government. This would be a complete break from the European Union, meaning no more free movement for migrant workers and no further access to the single market. Investors are worried about the lack of market access, and it's likely that this will deter capital from backing UK stocks and in doing so boost the price of gold as investors seek a new direction for their funds.
Prediction: Despite not being part of the single market, it's unlikely that the UK would not establish any European trade deals. The slowdown in the British economy would be enough to weaken the Pound and inspire investor interest so demand raises gold prices to between £970 and £1,100 an ounce, but not so much as to cause a desperate surge in demand that would see it climb to a record level like No Deal might.
Brexit? What Brexit?
There is an outside chance that Brexit will be averted/aborted in the event of a second referendum or another general election. Both the UK's major political parties said they would honour the referendum result, but the Labour Party - along with other opposition parties - said they would respect a second referendum result were the British public to demand a 'People's Vote'. In the event of a re-run and Remain winning it is likely that it would be business as usual in the UK and gold demand would once again be heavily correlated to the US Dollar's strength.
Prediction: The price of gold may actually drop as investor fears subside, though it is likely to stay between £900 and £930 per ounce.
- 27th February 2018 : Corbyn Brexit speech provides respite for Sterling.
- 14th March 2018 : Spring Statement 2018: "Light at the end of the tunnel" says Hammond.
- 21st March 2018 : Gold price falls as Brexit 'deal in principle' boosts Pound Sterling.
- 17th April 2018 : Sterling reaches strongest level against the US Dollar since Brexit began.
- 28th June 2018 : UK Government urged to speed up Brexit negotiations to protect jobs.
- 8th July 2018 : David Davis resigns as Brexit Secretary.
- 9th July 2018 : Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary.
- 13th July 2018 : Trump slams May's Brexit plans and warns of no UK/US trade deal.
- 6th August 2018 : Pound falls to 11 month low on 'No Deal' fears.
- 6th September 2018 : Gold up, Pound down, as reports of Brexit breakthrough shot down.
- 12th September 2018 : Michel Barnier foresees November agreement on Brexit.
- 18th September 2018 : Mark Carney, BoE chairman, warns Cabinet of disaster of No Deal.
- 24th September 2018 : Brexit talks break down in Salzburg, 'Chequers Proposal' rejected.
- 27th September 2018 : UK Autumn Budget moved forward before Brexit talks.
- 1st - 3rd October 2018 : Conservative Party conference.
- 18th - 19th October 2018 : European Council monthly summit.
- 26th October 2018 : Irish Presidential Elections.
- 29th October 2018 : UK Autumn Budget (15:30 GMT)
- 7th/8th November 2018 : US Mid-Term Elections.
- 6th - 12th November 2018 : UK Parliamentary recess.
- 10th November 2018 : Jo Johnson resigns from the UK cabinet.
- 13th - 15th November 2018 : Emergency Brexit Summit (CANCELLED)
- 25th November 2018 : EU Summit for Brexit.
- 4th December 2018 : UK Government found in contempt of Parliament.
- 10th December 2018 : Theresa May postpones the vote on her Brexit deal.
- 11th December 2018 : Parliament votes on the PM's Brexit deal (CANCELLED)
- 12th December 2018 : Conservative MPs initiate No Confidence vote in PM.
- 20th December - 7th January 2019 : UK Parliamentary recess.
- 7th January - 11th January 2019 : Debate week in the House of Commons.
- 8th January 2019 : Government loses vote against amendment to Finance Bill.
- 15th January 2019 : Government suffers record defeat for 'Meaningful Vote' in the Commons.
- 16th January 2019 : Government survives No Confidence vote with 325-306 in favour.
- 21st January 2019 : Official deadline for No-Deal to be declared.
- 29th January 2019 : Parliament in 'Next Step' vote on May's Plan B for Brexit.
- 30th January 2019 : Government wins 6 out of 7 Brexit amendment votes, but Commons rejects No Deal.
- 5th February 2019 : Theresa May arrives in Northern Ireland for talks with the DUP and Sinn Féin.
- 7th February 2019 : PM May arrives in Brussels to attempt renegotiation of the Irish backstop agreement.
- 14th February 2019 : Second 'Next Step' vote on Brexit due, subject to Commons amendments.
- 27th February 2019 : Third 'Next Step' vote on Brexit, subject to Commons amendments.
- 11th March 2019 : Prime Minister makes last-minute trip to Strasbourg for 'legal assurances' on backstop.
- 12th March 2019 : Second Meaningful Vote on Brexit.
- 13th March 2019 : Spring Statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer / Vote on No-Deal Brexit.
- 14th March 2019 : Vote on extending Article 50 and delaying the UK's departure from the EU.
- 27th March 2019 : MPs fail to secure a majority on a series of indicative votes in the House of Commons.
- 29th March 2019 : Britain formally leaves the EU. (DELAYED)
- 1st April 2019 : MPs fail to secure a majority on a second round of indicative voting in the Commons.
- 3rd April 2019 : MPs vote 313 to 312 in favour of extending Article 50 again.
- 10th April 2019 : The EU grants the UK a second Brexit extension, lasting until 31st October, 2019.
- 12th April 2019 : Britain leaves the EU if an agreement has not been reached in Parliament by March 29.
- 22nd May 2019 : Britain leaves the EU if an agreement is reached by MPs by March 29.
- 23rd May - 29th May 2019 : European Parliamentary Elections take place.
- 3rd June - 7th June 2019 : Full Brexit vote to be held in the House of Commons.
31st October 2019 :
Britain formally leaves the EU at 23:00, entering an initial transition period during
which EU regulations are slowly phased out until the end of 2020.
31st December 2020 :
The transition period of Britain leaving the EU officially concludes.
Friday 21st June
The race to become the new Prime Minister has been narrowed down to two candidates, as the
final round of the Conservative leadership contest has begun. Following a series of votes this week
amongst Conservative MPs, the choice now comes down to two; Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Hunt.
Yesterday saw both Sajid Javid and Michael Gove eliminated, in votes that some have now claimed
to have been tactically manipulated. Many Boris supporters saw Gove as a more difficult opponent
for their candidate to beat, and there are claims that some may have voted for Hunt in order to push
Gove into third place. Hunt is seen as less of a threat to Johnson, given he voted remain in the Brexit
The two will now battle it out in the final stage of the contest, which will see both MPs and Conservative
Party members vote on their preferred candidate, and the results will not be announced until the
week of July 22nd.
Boris Johnson is still largely considered the favourite, as has won every round by a significant margin.
In yesterday’s vote he secured more than half the votes, and is a favourite amongst Brexit supporters.
I’m deeply honoured to have secured more than 50 per cent of the vote in the final ballot. Thank you to everyone for your support! I look forward to getting out across the UK and to set out my plan to deliver Brexit, unite our country, and create a brighter future for all of us. pic.twitter.com/i5D4ByurAM— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 20, 2019
Jeremy Hunt will face the difficult task of convincing both Conservative MPs, and the Party
membership at large, that he can overcome the difficulties faced by Theresa May for the past
three years. Even if everyone who voted for Gove now switched to Hunt, it would still be
insufficient to beat Johnson, and some fear the task may be insurmountable.
Hunt seems aware of the difficulty of the task, calling himself the “underdog”, but with over
100,000 party members now included in the votes, it could turn in Hunt’s favour.
I'm the underdog - but in politics surprises happen as they did today. I do not doubt the responsibility on my shoulders - to show my party how we deliver Brexit and not an election, but also a turbo-charged economy and a country that walks tall in the world— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) June 20, 2019
The two will now be campaigning amongst party members in an attempt to secure the votes they need.
Both have said they will leave with no-deal if that is the best option they can secure, and by the time one
is named PM, Parliament will be about to break for summer. Returning on 4th September, this will leave
approximately eight weeks for any further deals to be negotiated in the House; a tight deadline considering
the progress made in the last three weeks. With the deadline of October 31st looming over them, will
either one be able to convince Parliament to back a new deal? Or will time run out and the UK crash out
with no deal?
Tuesday 28th May
The future of Brexit has been thrown into chaos this weekend, following the
resignation of Theresa
May on Friday, and the results of Thursday’s European elections. The political landscape has seen
significant, if not unexpected, shifts during the past five days, and investor confidence is shaken.
May has been a difficult month for the Pound, with highs against the US Dollar of $1.31 at the start
of the month, before crashing down for $1.26 as news of the PM’s resignation surfaced. Gold has
enjoyed the benefits though, rising above £1,015 per ounce on Friday.
May will resign as Conservative party leader on June 7th, but remain as Prime Minister until a new
leader has been selected. With Boris Johnson the current favourite to become the UK’s new PM,
investors are worried whether the Brexiteer could seek a no-deal Brexit rather than ‘softer’ options
such as a customs union.
Whether any new leader can break the stalemate that has plagued Theresa May for the past year,
remains to be seen.
The weekend saw the results of Thursday’s European elections announced and, as feared by many
Conservative MPs, the Brexit Party saw huge gains at their expense.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party were clear winners; with 29 MEPs elected, and a 31.6% vote share. The Conservatives came fifth with only four MEPs and less than 10% of the national vote share. Although the results come as no surprise for Conservatives, it is an historic defeat, and hugely embarrassing to the current government. The frustration felt by Leave voters at the inability to deliver Brexit, has seen them flock to the new Brexit Party in protest.
Labour did not escape unscathed either, ending in third place, with only ten MEPs – a 50% loss from the previous elections. The Liberal Democrats and Greens both took voters from Labour, with the Lib Dems jumping to a surprise second place. Labour's position on Brexit has been blamed, with the unclear policy on a second referendum driving remain voters to alternative parties with clearer intentions.
Although the powers of MEPs are limited – especially given Brexit is currently scheduled to happen by October 31st at the latest – but the results are seen as a demonstration of opinion. Voters have used the opportunity to make their voices heard on what they want to happen next.
The surge of the Brexit Party will put pressure on the next Conservative leader to try and regain the trust of disillusioned Leave voters. Calls for a General Election to break the deadlock are growing, but it seems unlikely the new PM will risk such a move. Leader hopeful, Jeremy Hunt, wrote in The Daily Telegraph that holding a general election before Brexit is complete would see the Conservatives “annihilated”.
Between the leadership selection process, and summer recesses, the new Prime Minister will need to act quickly to secure their Brexit vision before October’s deadline, and the economic uncertainty seems set to drag on for the months to come.
Wednesday 22nd May
Theresa May will speak to MPs in the Commons today to offer a range of concessions on the Brexit
deal, including a vote on whether or not to hold a second Brexit referendum. Despite support from
senior MPs such as Michael Gove, the move has been criticised by many in the House.
Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer described the offer as “too weak”, telling BBC Radio 4’s
Today programme that MPs already had the power to take a vote on a second referendum and other
options through amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement.
The proposals from the PM are:
- A Commons vote on holding a second referendum, based on the government’s Brexit deal
- A vote on varying Customs Union agreements as a Brexit compromise
Legislation enshrining workers’ rights to be as good or better than before, post-Brexit, with
no weakening of environmental rules in the process.
- An obligation to replace the Northern Ireland backstop by the end of 2020.
A second obligation that, if the backstop is not enacted, Northern Ireland would remain in
line with the UK as a customs territory.
- A duty to challenge the political declaration regarding future EU relations.
Conservative backbenchers also are believed to be challenging the PM via the 1922 Committee,
with Nigel Evans (pictured right) keen for the group to change its policy of one No Confidence vote
a year to see if Tory MPs can’t force Theresa May out of office.
Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Mrs May as party leader and Prime Minister, took to Twitter
to criticise the move, saying: "We are being asked to vote for a customs union and a second
referendum. The Bill is directly against our manifesto - and I will not vote for it.
"We can and must do better - and deliver what the people voted for."
Friday 17th May
Cross party talks between the government and the main opposition are set to come to an end,
after six weeks of private discussions trying to reach a compromise that will garner a
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn had met on a few occasions, while Keir Starmer, Stephen Barclay,
and the respective Brexit teams had dealt with the majority of the discussions.
The news comes two days after the Prime Minister announced plans for the next Brexit vote,
and just one day after the rumour mill got into full swing about who will replace Theresa May
as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.
In response, the Pound has dropped below $1.28 for the first time in four months - currently
sitting at $1.277. The combination of the breakdown in talks and the change of Prime Minister
has investors worried, and once again (at least in the short-term) the UK economy is out of
Boris Johnson is the latest Tory MP to confirm he will run for the leadership, with Esther McVey
and Rory Stewart also in contention. Andrea Leadsom is reportedly weighing up her options,
having competed against Theresa May in the last leadership contest, and there are strong
rumours that the likes of Liz Truss, Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, Penny Mordaunt, Michael Gove,
Amber Rudd, and Jeremy Hunt will also jump into the fray.
Wednesday 15th May
Theresa May has announced plans to have a full vote on the Brexit bill – encompassing both
the Withdrawal Agreement and action to be taken afterwards – for the first week of June.
The announcement is an attempt by the PM to speed up negotiations with Labour, and to find
Brexit resolution before the summer recess from Parliament, though a Labour spokeswoman
told reporters that Jeremy Corbyn has “raised doubts over the credibility of government
commitments” – a reference to the potential change of leadership in the Conservative Party.
The voting would be a matter of days after the European elections however and would also fall
on the same week as President Trump’s state visit. Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, put
it mildly when he described the combination as a “difficult” moment.
The Guardian newspaper believes that Theresa May’s decision to set a vote date helps fend off
any immediate vote of no confidence, but The Times warn that another defeat would be game
over for the PM. Norman Smith of the BBC had this to say on Twitter this morning:
Govt sources say if Mrs may's deal is voted down for a 4th time - there will not be a 5th attempt #lastchance— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) May 15, 2019
No 10 say if Mrs May's deal is defeated - UK set for No Deal or Revoke as EU will not grant a further extension after Oct 31.— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) May 15, 2019
Tuesday 30th April
The latest polling by YouGov has the new Brexit Party, led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage,
as the likely winning party from the UK in the European parliamentary elections.
The survey from April 23rd to April 26th put the Brexit Party at 28% of the vote, with Labour
in second place on 22%. The Conservatives were third on 13%, while the new Change UK
party were tied in a close fourth spot with the Greens on 10%.
Earlier in April, Opinium had Labour clearly in front on 29% but the combined UKIP/BP vote was
worth a combined 25%. Over the past month that UKIP vote has been absorbed for the most part
by the Brexit Party, while Labour's lead has been reigned back by the arrival of Change UK (The
Independent Group) and, somewhat surprisingly, a spur of interest for the Green Party over the
more traditional candidates of the Lib Dems.
The change in fortunes for the Brexit Party has been remarkable, but not entirely surprising given
the way that Brexit has come to dominate British politics. With under a month to go until the
European elections, expect more polls and fluctuations as the Commons resumes debating the
current Withdrawal Agreement.
Thursday 25th April
Theresa May has survived another leadership challenge, as senior Conservatives ruled out
an attempt to change party rules. Currently, the party cannot hold more than one no-confidence
vote on a leader within a twelve month period. Having survived such a vote last year, the
PM should be protected until December of this year. Some Conservatives – unhappy with
May’s handling of Brexit, and her decision to hold cross-party talks with Labour – had hoped
to change the rules, allowing them to hold a new vote now.
Having met Tuesday and Wednesday, the 1922 Committee decided that the rules should remain
the same. The news was not all good for the Prime Minister though; MPs have called for the PM
to make her future leadership plans clear. Having already promised to go once a deal was
approved, some Conservative MPs are now demanding a clear roadmap for when she steps aside.
Whether she will give in to these demands remains to be seen.
The 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs have inflicted yet another humiliation on @theresa_may . Their committee led by Graham Brady have asked her to set out a “schedule and timetable” for her departure in all circumstances, ie whether or not her Brexit deal is...— Robert Peston (@Peston) 24 April 2019
Of worry for the Prime Minister will also be the news that the Clwyd South Conservative Association
has passed a, non-binding, no-confidence vote against her – with only a small 3.7% voting in support
Between a strengthened dollar and continuing Brexit fatigue, the Pound Sterling has had a poor
performance this week; dropping two cents to $1.288. Gold, in response, has enjoyed a price rise of
almost £10 per ounce in just the past 24 hours.
Rumours in Westminster suggest that the PM is considering another Commons vote on her Brexit
deal next week; potentially with the Irish Backstop removed in the hopes of finally pushing it through.
Theresa May has already expressed her frustration at the Brexit delay, and has stated her hope of a
Brexit deal being passed before the UK is required to hold elections on MEPs.
Considering the lack of progress made in cross-party talks though, it is difficult to see what might
change MPs minds if they are asked to vote next week.
Monday 15th April
The price of gold dropped today to £978.18 per ounce as the threat of a no-deal Brexit
continues to shrink. UK businesses however are still reporting a gloomy outlook on the
back of continued delays to Brexit. Deloitte reports that over 80% of chief financial officers,
across a range of FTSE 100 and 250 companies, believe that Brexit will lead to a long-term
negative impact on business in the UK.
Although the Government has shown a willingness to compromise, UK businesses still
remain unwilling to trust given the already lengthy Brexit process, that is now dragging
on longer than expected. Pessimism continues with many saying that they are reducing
recruitment while Brexit continues. Morgan McKinley has found that job vacancies in
London’s financial industry have halved in the two years since the referendum.
Job vacancies in London’s finance industry have halved in two years due to uncertainty over Brexit, a survey by Morgan McKinley has found https://t.co/bg08AkJpxr via @jfarchy #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/BHyDTOE1nE— Zoe Schneeweiss (@ZSchneeweiss) 15 April 2019
Talks between Conservatives and Labour representatives are continuing while Parliament
is on a break for Easter. David Lidington – who is leading the talks on behalf of the
government – has expressed his hope that, when Parliament returns from the Easter break,
they will be able to “take stock”. Although no firm date has apparently been set for talks to
be concluded, whether successfully or not, the May elections are considered a key date by
the Conservatives to avoid.
Jeremy Hunt, speaking while visiting Japan, has said that reaching an agreement before
23rd May is an ‘absolute priority’ in order to avoid European Polls. The Foreign Secretary
has stated the public would be frustrated if asked to vote on MEPs next month, and that
it could be a polling disaster for the Conservatives.
So far though, news from cross-party talks has suggested that there are still key
differences that are yet to be overcome. Labour meanwhile might be in less of a rush,
as polling suggests that they have gained support in the upcoming Council – and
potential MEP – elections. With a new deadline of October 31st, the uncertainty could
continue for some time.
After five hours of discussions last night, the EU has agreed to allow another Brexit extension up
to October 31st of this year.
Theresa May spent one hour arguing for a delay up to June 30th but, as expected, the EU rejected
this in favour of a later deadline. The news came late last night that a six month delay would be
granted to allow Parliament more time for a decision to be reached. The UK will however be
allowed to leave at any point before this date, should MPs come to an agreement.
The delay was expected to be longer, potentially up to a year, but French President Emmanuel
Macron was said to be stubborn in his demands for a much shorter delay. In the end a
compromise of six months was agreed and the 31st October date set.
Donald Tusk’s parting statement to the UK was to “not waste this time”. The Prime Minister
is due to make a statement in the House of Commons today regarding last night’s decision
and its implications.
The delay means that the UK will now be required to hold elections for European MPs next
month. If MEPs are not elected by 23rd May, then the UK will leave the EU on 1st June
without a deal. As such the PM is expected to include a decision on MEP elections during
Reaction has been mixed with many happy that a no-deal has once again been avoided,
and others disappointed by the continued delay. Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has
summed up some of the options now facing MPs.
Parliament is due to break for Easter recess, but it is expected that cross-party talks between
Conservatives and Labour will continue during this period. A cross-party agreement seems to
be the current target, but with more time now granted other options – such as another
referendum – are being brought up once more by MPs.
Conservative MPs have raised further calls for the PM to resign given her failure to deliver
Brexit on time. Former Brexit secretary David Davis has said it is “difficult” to imagine Theresa
May still being leader by the party’s conference in September. Theresa May however seems
set to try and cling to power, at least until the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified. After
this she has already stated her intention to step aside.
The fear is that the new delay could simply see the current stalemate drag on for six months
until the Halloween deadline is reached once more. The urgency of the past month has now
abated, and without it the divisions of Parliament may once more rise to the surface.
In a jam-packed day of business for the House of Commons, MPs debated and voted from
mid-afternoon until the early hours of this morning, with opposition MPs keen to rapidly push
through Yvette Cooper's Article 50 extension bill in record time.
The first Commons vote of the day was an historic occasion, with the House tied at 310 votes
either side on the subject of another round of indicative votes. As such, the deciding vote
went to the Speaker, John Bercow, who sided (as per tradition) with the Noes.
The second vote was for the Second Reading of Cooper's bill, which passed by 315 to 310 and
progressed to the Third Reading, which came later that night.
Before then were the amendments:
The Prime Minister would not be required to put the EU's extension
offer/date to MPs. The amendment was defeated by 313 votes to 304.
The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill, as proposed by Yvette
Cooper, would not limit the government's power in deciding how to seek an extension
to Article 50. The amendment was defeated by 400 votes to 220 - a 180 vote majority
and the second biggest defeat in modern parliamentary history.
Crumbs - a government #brexit defeat by 180 votes. That's an absolute whopper. Was about the government being allowed to seek an extension in its own way.— Susan Hulme (@Susanh12) April 3, 2019
Conservative MP Anne Main proposed a limit to the time length of the
extension to Article 50. The amendment was defeated by 488 votes to 123 - a majority
Proposal by Sir Bill Cash to prevent amendments to standing orders (procedural
rules) during the motion on the Article 50 extension. The clause proposal was defeated by
509 votes to 105 - a majority of 404.
The final vote of the evening was on the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill: Third Reading.
A tight 5-vote majority earlier on became even tighter, with the Labour MP's proposed bill
passing by just one vote at the end of the night - 313 votes to 312. The bill now moves on to
the House of Lords for approval, which typically happens before the Third Reading but in this
case was switched around due to prior commitments in the upper chamber of Parliament.
If the Lords approve the bill then the government and Theresa May will be expected to approach
the EU leaders and request another extension to Brexit, though whether they get one - and how
long they get - is an entirely different matter.
Wednesday 3rd April
After hours of talks with her cabinet, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced
she will meet with Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a final attempt to break
the Brexit deadlock.
The two are expected to meet this afternoon to discuss a compromise that could
bring the two parties together and see an agreement reached over the future of
Brexit. With the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement defeated again last week by a large
margin, it seems May has accepted that she cannot find a majority before the
April 12th deadline.
She announced in a statement last night that she will seek another small extension
from the EU in order to meet with Corbyn and put a new Brexit agreement before
Parliament by April 10th, in time for the EU’s emergency Brexit summit.
The decision to meet with Corbyn signifies that the PM may be willing to accept a
‘softer’ Brexit. Labour have made it clear that a customs union and workers’ rights
are both high priorities, and a customs union was the closest option to reaching a
majority in Parliament during last weeks series of indicative votes.
Conservative Brexiteers have been critical of the decision, believing a customs
union to be a defeat and betrayal of Brexit. Jacob Rees-Mogg called the offer
‘deeply unsatisfactory’, while Boris Johnson has also said the PM’s decision is
It is very disappointing that the cabinet has decided to entrust the final handling of Brexit to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. It now seems all too likely that British trade policy and key law making powers will be handed over to Brussels - with no say for the U.K.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) 2 April 2019
Theresa May will likely be betting that the Conservative MP’s whose votes she now
loses, will be more than made up for if she can reach a deal with Labour and gain
their support. With her resignation to come, should a deal be reached, then it seems
likely she has made the decision to get a deal through at the expense of party unity.
With the UK set to leave the EU next Friday time is running very short and the extension
from the EU will likely be necessary for a deal to be struck, debated, voted upon and
Tuesday 2nd April
MPs once again failed to secure a Commons majority in favour of an alternative direction for Brexit, after several hours of parliamentary debate. All four amendments chosen for the voting by the Speaker of the House were defeated, leaving the UK in continued Brexit limbo.
Last Wednesday's best chance, the Customs Union motion from Ken Clarke, came closest to passing but still lost by 3 votes. Nick Boles, who put forward the Common Market 2.0, saw his proposal defeat too, and resigned from the Conservative Party in protest.
House of Commons indicative votes Mk.2, results:— Britain Elects (@britainelects) April 1, 2019
(C) Customs Union
(D) Common Market 2.0
(E) Confirmatory Public Vote
(G) Parliamentary Supremacy
The EU's Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, admitted today that a No Deal outcome is now more likely, but still held out hope that the UK could reach an agreement that would be less damaging to both parties. Today the Pound is at $1.306 and €1.166 respectively, having been a cent higher before the last night's voting took place. Gold is down almost 1.5% in the past week, but has steadied around £985 per ounce over the past few days.
Today the Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting with Cabinet members in a lengthy three and a half hour session (that was originally to be five hours long). Brexit is to be heavily discussed, with strong rumours that the PM will push forward with a fourth vote on her deal - though it is unclear whether it would be on the full Withdrawal Agreement or just the initialisation as was last voted on.
Another point that has been discussed is a confidence motion approach, with the PM offering an ultimatum - back my deal or suffer a General Election. This is a risk for the Conservatives, who were polled by the Mail on Sunday this weekend as being five points behind Labour at present, and senior MPs such as David Davis have warned Theresa May that such a move will still have several Tory MPs voting against her Brexit deal - whatever the consequences.
Friday 29th March
Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement has been defeated for a third, and perhaps final, time
this afternoon. The government had hoped that, by separating the Withdrawal Agreement
from the political declaration on the future relationship, enough support could be garnered for
at least the first half of the Brexit deal to pass.
The morning and early afternoon were spent in heated debate, as MPs across the House
claimed the PM was resorting to a desperate attempt to pass a deal that would blindfold
politicians over future negotiations.
Early reports had suggested that the voting would be close; several MPs had declared their
intent to switch to supporting the PM, with the ERG and prominent Brexit supporters – such
as Boris Johnson – announcing their begrudging support of the deal. Some Labour MPs,
most of whom represented constituencies that voted Leave, had also suggested they would
defy their party lines to vote with the government.
In the end though, the result was a defeat of 58 votes; a larger gap than expected, showing
the division amongst the conservative party.
. @theresa_may loses her Withdrawal Agreement by 286 to 344. Now backbench MPs have to take control of Brexit or it’s no-deal Brexit on 12 April, just two weeks from now.— Robert Peston (@Peston) 29 March 2019
With the divide so large it seems unlikely that the deal will continue to be considered as
an option. Theresa May herself has said that the defeat is a “matter of profound regret”
and that she fears “we are reaching the limits of this process in the House.” This refers
to the fact that without a deal the UK must now either leave the EU on April 12th without
a deal, cancel Brexit, or request another extension (something that could be opposed by
In light of today’s defeat, the President of the European Council - Donald Tusk - has called
a European Council on April 10th with the intention of deciding the stance of the EU.
A cross-party group of MPs has tabled a motion on Monday to debate, and potentially
vote on, a ‘Common Market 2.0’. With a mixture of some of the more popular points
from Wednesday’s indicative votes, including Ken Clarke’s narrowly defeated motion,
this could gain a small majority. Should it gain a consensus then it remains to be seen
if Theresa May will ratify the deal in the face of today’s loss.
Thursday 28th March
While speaking at the 1922 committee yesterday evening Theresa May has agreed to resign as
Prime Minister, if her Withdrawal Agreement passes through Parliament. If MPs back her twice-
defeated Brexit deal, then the PM has said she will stand down and allow new leadership to take
over negotiations during the next stages.
The Government is now scrambling to see if the PM’s deal can be put before Parliament a third
time, and if enough support can be garnered. The DUP continues to be a thorn in the PM’s side
however, stating that they will not support the deal, which in turn means the ERG will also vote
against the deal.
In a day of further confusion in London, MPs held indicative votes last night on eight possible
next- steps for Brexit – failing to reach a majority for any of them.
HoC Brexit indicative votes: FOR-AGAINST— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) 27 March 2019
160-400 No Deal
188-283 Common Market 2.0
65-377 EFTA & EEA
264-272 Customs Union
237-307 Labour's 'plan'
184-293 Revoke A50
268-295 Public vote
139-422 WTO terms
The most popular deal was Ken Clarke’s customs union; at 264 votes in favour – to 272
against. MPs were quick to point out that popular votes could be brought back next
week and voted on following further debate with a more focused attention. With only
eight votes required to change the result the Independent Group or DUP could be enough
to tip the scales.
If the deal passes however the Government is still not required to follow the wishes of
Parliament. With stalemate continuing the UK is still set to leave the EU on April 12th
without a deal, or a revocation of Article 50 (although this option lost by over 100 votes
last night). Tomorrow could see the PM’s deal brought back a third time; but having lost
by 149 votes earlier this month she faces a tall order to finally get the majority she needs,
and could pay the price of losing her premiership to obtain it.
Tuesday 26th March
Parliament has moved towards taking control of the next-steps for Brexit, after MPs voted
last night by 329 to 302 to hold ‘indicative’ votes this week. Wednesday will now see Parliament
debate and vote on a number of amendments to see if a way forward can reach a majority. In
a show of continued defiance however, Prime Minister Theresa May has said she cannot commit
to upholding the agreement (should one be reached), stating that "The votes could lead to
an outcome that is un-negotiable with the EU," and refusing to give a ‘blank cheque’ to Parliament.
The news has seen Conservative Brexiteers, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, revert their stances to
now support the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement, despite voting against it twice. With the mood
in Parliament already clearly against no-deal, and a risk to any Brexit at all growing, support
appears to be returning to the PM, if somewhat begrudgingly.
The choice seems to be Mrs May’s deal or no Brexit. https://t.co/GggHZ7NEv5— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) 26 March 2019
The DUP meanwhile has stated that their stance remains unchanged, and they will not
be supporting the PM’s deal. Without the DUP’s support it is unlikely that Theresa May
will be able to get her deal through Parliament.
MPs can now table options to be debated and voted on, with some of the more popular
options including: softer Brexit (remaining in the Customs Union), a second referendum
or revoking Article 50.
Calls for the PM to resign continue, with some hoping for a snap election in order to
redress the balance in Parliament and break the stalemate. Anything that requires a
further delay however will need to be agreed with Europe, who have currently set the
Brexit deadline to April 12th - should the UK be unable to reach an agreement. This will
also require the UK to take part in European elections.
The confusion of the past few weeks seems set to continue. Although votes will be
held it still remains to be seen if MPs can agree on a way forward, and if they do,
whether their decision will be honoured.
Friday 22nd March
The EU has agreed to delay Brexit following late night debates yesterday. In a blow
to Theresa May, control was taken from the Prime Minister over the issue of dates,
placing more immediate pressure on MPs in Parliament to reach an agreement.
The PM had requested a delay until June 30th but the EU has now specified two
possible dates for the UK to leave the EU. This first key date will be April 12th – if a
deal is not approved in the immediate future then Britain will be forced to either leave
the EU with no deal, or to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit. If, however, Parliament
reaches a decision soon, then the UK will be granted until May 22nd to complete the
process of leaving.
EU27 responds to UK requests in a positive spirit and:— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) 21 March 2019
👉 agrees to Art. 50 extension until 22 May if Withdrawal Agreement approved next week
👉 if not agreed next week then extension until 12 April
👉 approves ‘Strasbourg Agreement’
👉 continues no-deal preparations
There is still room for a longer Brexit delay beyond the end of the year in the event that
the Parliamentary impasse continues, and the likelihood of Theresa May’s continued
Although a no-deal Brexit has for now been avoided, there seems to be nothing else
that MPs can agree upon and, with only a short extension granted so far, there is little
time for a decision to be made. The Pound has fluctuated in the last hour against both
the Dollar and the Euro, while gold is hovering either side of the £1000 per ounce mark.
UK MPs have been commenting on the very low likelihood of Theresa May’s deal being
approved in a third meaningful vote next week, if Speaker John Bercow allows it to be
heard in the first place. Rumours now suggest that MPs will be given the opportunity to
take part in indicative votes on Brexit, with a number of options on the table including:
May’s deal, no Brexit, a second referendum, or a softer Brexit with a customs union –
as proposed by Labour to mirror Norway’s model of trade with Europe.
May now facing multiple calls to resign from Tory Right-wingers.— Joe Murphy (@JoeMurphyLondon) 22 March 2019
Too many mis-steps this week. Her rudder is gone
This feels like the tipping point - after which a capsize is inevitable.
Her days as Prime Minister are numbered.
Fresh calls for Theresa May to resign have been made as she sacrifices more power
to the EU over the delay, with Mark Francois telling news reporters that he doesn’t
believe the PM will be in power come the April deadline, and other Conservative MPs
touting David Liddington – her de facto deputy – as a temporary successor acting on
behalf of a technical national government until Brexit is resolved.
Thursday 21st March
In a hastily-arranged speech at No10 Downing Street last night, the Prime Minister expressed her sympathy for the ‘tired’ British public and laid the blame for any Brexit confusion and delay at the feet of fellow MPs.
Speaking just after 8pm last night, May said “Parliament has done everything possible to avoid making a choice. All MPs have been willing to say is what they do not want.”
Ministers reacted angrily to the PM’s claims, lining up to criticise Theresa May. Conservative MP Dominic Grieve told the Victoria Derbyshire show that May’s speech encouraged the public to “vilify” MPs, while others took to Twitter to express their unhappiness:
Resorting to the 'blame game' as the PM is doing is a low blow. Democracy loses when a PM who has set herself against the HoC then blames MPs for doing their job. Distracts from Art 50 extension, all part of her strategy to run down the clock and rule out other options. Toxic.— Sam Gyimah MP (@SamGyimah) March 20, 2019
I’ve thought long and hard before saying this, but @theresa_may knows that MPs across the House are subjected to death threats - some very credible. Her speech was incendiary and irresponsible. If any harm comes to any of us, she will have to accept her share of responsibility.— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) March 20, 2019
Has anyone ever learned anything from a speech by Theresa May? How come everyone is so surprised?— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) March 20, 2019
Earlier the PM issued a request to extend the Brexit deadline from the end of this month to the end of June, with the EU Council President Donald Tusk saying that a short extension could be granted if the House of Commons backed May’s deal by the end of next week.
The ultimatum from the EU brought back the threat of a No Deal Brexit, which caused the Pound to drop to a week low of $1.314 and €1.153 respectively. The price of gold has risen in response to a little over £1,000 per ounce, having been as low as £984.36 yesterday.
Wednesday 20th March
Prime Minister Theresa May has today announced that she has written to EU President
Donald Tusk to formally request a delay to Brexit, up to 30th June. During a heated Prime
Minister’s Questions, May has stated that she is not prepared to delay beyond this date,
prompting commentators to speculate she could resign if Brexit should lag beyond
The European Commission has however stated that June 30th is too late if the UK
does not wish to take part in EU elections, which start 23rd May. This is something
that has previously been considered unreasonable given the expense, and irony, of
electing MEPs prior to Brexit’s completion.
Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has criticised the PM’s leadership once again,
accusing her of running the clock in a continued attempt to force her deal through
Parliament and causing chaos, and asked her once again to meet with him for
discussions over the next steps.
If the EU should refuse the PM’s request for an extension, then legally Britain would still be
required to leave the EU on March 29th, just nine short days from today. With opinion still
largely divided across the house, a longer delay might be necessary for a final decision to be
made, but it is unclear what impact that delay could have on the current political landscape.
The Prime Minister will reportedly meet with opposition leaders from both sides of
the political spectrum later today in order to discuss the delay to Brexit.
Tuesday 19th March
Speaker of the House John Bercow yesterday ruled that the government and Theresa
May could not bring back the Withdrawal Agreement for a third meaningful vote this
week if the deal had not been altered in anyway.
Bercow made the announcement in the Commons yesterday afternoon, before taking a
series of Points of Order from MPs across the House in order to offer clarification on the
That's a nice meaningful vote you've got there. Would be a shame if someone invoked a 400 year old parliamentary convention and ruined it. pic.twitter.com/ACaEzoi5bw— James McEnaney (@MrMcEnaney) March 18, 2019
The Speaker cited protocol from
A Treatise upon the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and
Usage of Parliament . Erskine May, a 19th century clerk of the Commons, compiled the
book and documented protocol and rulings dating back hundreds of years prior. The ruling
used by John Bercow dates back to 1604 and states that MPs can’t vote on an identical
motion or matter twice in the same parliamentary session. The potential for such a move
was discussed last week but the Speaker’s actions were still a surprise – with no advance
notice or warning for the government.
With just 10 days left until the official leaving date for the UK from the EU, the national
newspapers took a dim view on Bercow’s ruling.
The government has expressed its disappointment in the Speaker’s decision, with several
MPs in the Commons using Points of Order to quiz and criticise Mr Bercow for his actions.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning
and insisted that while the government respected Mr Bercow’s refereeing, it would seek to
pursue a third vote on the Brexit deal, though Mr Barclay did confirm that an extension to
Article 50 will now be necessary
It is expected that Theresa May will seek this on behalf of Parliament while attending the
EU Summit in Brussels at the end of the week. The EU are rumoured to be willing to offer
the UK a new leave date of July 1st, with the offer open until March 29th so that Parliament
can debate the new arrangement and also negate Mr Bercow’s ruling on a changed Brexit deal.
Parliament agreed last night to delay Brexit by three months or more in order to
try and reach an agreement over how Britain should leave the EU. With a
majority of 413 to 202 votes, there was a clear consensus that MPs want more
time for debate in an attempt to decide what shape Brexit should take in the future.
An extension to Article 50’s deadline of March 29th must now be requested by
Theresa May. She will put this request forward to the EU Council, likely on the
21st or 22nd March, when a leaders’ summit is already scheduled. If she can
get the unanimous agreement of all 27 other EU countries, then the delay can
go ahead. Some EU leaders have already suggested this might not be a simple
matter however and that, unless they can see a good reason for the delay, they
might block it.
Under no circumstances an extension in the dark! Unless there is a clear majority in the House of Commons for something precise, there is no reason at all for the European Council to agree on a prolongation. Even the motion tabled for this evening by the UK Gov. recognises this. https://t.co/BNJVVT7Klw— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) 14 March 2019
In an attempt to avoid needing to request an extension at the EU summit at
the end of next week, the Prime Minister has confirmed that she will put her
withdrawal agreement before the House a third time by March 20th. Although
Conservative and DUP ministers are still seeking legal assurances on the Irish
backstop, it seems the short timeline will make any significant changes unlikely.
Instead the PM will be hoping that the threat of a delay, and threat of no-Brexit,
will bring Brexiteer MPs such as the ERG into line. After the defeat of 149 votes
on Tuesday night though it will require some significant changes in opinion to
get the deal approved.
The lack of significant decisions has seen the Pound remain fairly steady, with
gold also hovering around the £980 per ounce mark. If a delay is approved next
week then the uncertainty will likely continue on for some time, but for now
Sterling is holding its own against the Dollar and Euro.
Amidst a chaotic night in the House of Commons the threat of no-deal Brexit was
seemingly taken off the table, only to be returned once more.
Despite suggesting earlier in the day that Conservative MPs would be given a free
vote, the government decided to whip the party to vote against their own deal in a
bid to keep no-deal an option, following the success of Amendment A – an
alteration tabled by Dame Caroline Spelman, Yvette Cooper, and other ministers
across the House.
The whip was unsuccessful however and, in another sign of Theresa May’s
continuing erosion of authority, thirteen ministers abstained. Sarah Newton
(Work and Pensions minister) voted against the whip and has since resigned.
At the conclusion of the vote it seemed that no-deal was almost certainly dead
in the water, and markets responded accordingly. The Pound Sterling rose to a
peak of $1.33 shortly after the results were announced and gold slipped below
the £980 per ounce mark. Gold has dipped in the past day in both Pounds and
Dollars, but the gains in the Pound brought about by the Brexit drama has seen
the gold price drop by 1.66% compared to the Dollar’s 0.85%.
Adding fresh confusion however was the news that last night’s vote was
non-binding, meaning it did not rule out a no-deal at all. Theresa May is hoping
to get her Withdrawal Agreement passed in a third vote next week, despite having
been defeated twice already. Mrs. May said: “The legal default in EU and UK law is
that the UK will leave without a deal unless something else is agreed.”
Putting the deal before parliament a third time, and without the time to make any
significant changes, has drawn further criticism of the PM. Speaker John Bercow
has even suggested that he could block the motion, ruling it ‘not responding to the
will of the House.’
VERY interesting. John Bercow, responding to a question from @angelaeagle , implied it's possible that if the government keeps bringing back the withdrawal agreement to the Commons, he could rule it out of order as it's not responding to the will of the House. Would be explosive.— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) 13 March 2019
With no-deal seemingly still a possibility, MPs will this afternoon vote on delaying the
deadline of March 29th for Article 50, deciding terms and the length of the extension.
The rumours currently circulating in Brussels and London are that Donald Tusk will
offer Theresa May an additional four years to resolve Brexit.
Once again, the PM has suggested that MPs will be given a free vote but with
amendments to be tabled this afternoon, and the change of position yesterday
this could change.
Even if a delay is agreed upon today the EU could still block it if they deem it as simply
wasting time rather than a concerted effort to get a deal in place. Until a delay is
agreed in parliament, and then approved by the EU, the deadline of March 29th and a
no-deal Brexit is still on the horizon.
The UK government suffered another sizeable defeat last night as MPs voted 391 to 242 against Theresa May's Brexit deal - the second time the PM's Withdrawal Agreement with the EU had been rejected by the House of Commons.
Newspaper coverage (above) has been critical of both the Prime Minister for her weak deal, with some rubbishing MPs across Parliament for the continued stalemate. Bookmakers have a No Deal Brexit at 7/2 odds, while a second referendum/People's Vote is at 11/5.
The order of business for the House today is Prime Minister's Questions at noon, followed by the Spring Statement from Chancellor Philip Hammond at 12:30pm, before the Commons turns to the No Deal discussions this afternoon and voting on the proposal this evening. The current motion from the government says:
That this House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.
MPs on all sides have criticised the double-negative nature of the motion, with a raft of amendments tabled to adjust the statement. The chief one is led by Dame Caroline Spelman, which alters the text to state that the House " rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship.” Five other amendments are tabled for the Speaker to decide on, including amendments from the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales.
Tomorrow's vote will be on whether to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit to allow for proper resolution, but EU officials including Michel Barnier have warned the UK government that even with Parliamentary approval, the European Union cannot grant the extension without a clear purpose for it and a plan of action for the UK's withdrawal - something the government has yet to achieve.
Thursday 7th March 2019
The EU has told the UK government that it has 48 hours to put forward new, serious
proposals for Brexit if the Prime Minister wants to present fresh progress to the
Commons ready for Tuesday’s meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Act.
Earlier this week a negotiating team led by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit
Secretary Stephen Barclay went to Brussels to discuss the Irish backstop further, but
their talks – reported as three hours long – were fruitless.
Since then, EU officials have said they would be willing to work over the weekend to
respond to a proposal from the UK if such a plan was presented and had rough
consensus to make progress in Parliament. The Telegraph is reporting that Theresa
May might consider a Commons speech tomorrow to try and persuade MPs to concede
on her Brexit deal, though given her pleas have fallen on deaf ears to date, this might
seem an unlikely plan.
The Conservative government is currently expected to lose Tuesday’s vote, with talk
already underway about extending Article 50 through a vote on Thursday and tabling
a third meaningful vote in the coming weeks. Chancellor Philip Hammond has been
on BBC Radio 4 this morning arguing that fellow Tory MPs should back the PM’s
proposals or risk a delay to Brexit – and the potential for no Brexit at all.
One growing rumour is that Wednesday’s formal vote on whether to permit a no-deal
Brexit may be pulled, but as Labour MP Yvette Cooper pointed out on Twitter, the plan
to have three days of voting was put forward by May and voted on by MPs in the chamber,
meaning it should effectively be set in stone.
Downing Street had better deny this pretty quickly. The amendment we voted for 502-20 last week wasn’t conditional. They need to stop playing games when manufacturing jobs, medicine supplies & security cooperation are all at stake if we drift into chaotic No Deal https://t.co/tLxieIOyBq— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) March 6, 2019
Former Conservative MP Anna Soubry, now a member of The Independent Group (TIG),
suggested that her independent colleagues would also like a meeting with Corbyn to
discuss the People’s Vote aka a second referendum, though many users on social media
sites pointed out that Ms Soubry already voted against a second referendum in the
Commons at the end of January and, despite her vote of no-confidence in Theresa May,
voted to support the government in their no-confidence vote.
The next Brexit business is a meeting today between Stephen Barclay and Nathalie Loiseau,
the Europe Minister for France. The pair will meet in London to work on proposals to tackle
to ongoing uncertainty for the UK and Europe, as well as the impasse currently felt in Parliament.
Monday 4th March 2019
Theresa may has announced a post-Brexit fund of £1.6bn to be given to ‘poorer’ towns
across Britain. The money will be distributed over the next seven years across the UK,
but the Midlands and northern towns will see a bigger share. The Prime Minister has
stated that the UK’s wealth has been “unfairly spread” and that this fund will help redress
Opposition MPs have called the move a cynical attempt to gain further support in the lead
up to the PM’s key votes on Brexit next week, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell
calling the move a desperate bribe.
This towns fund smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation. https://t.co/LyQ7t04PCo— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) 4 March 2019
The amount of money has also been ridiculed as “measly” and “a drop in the ocean” by
MPs, who claim that cuts made during austerity - and the money lost by Brexit – are far
outweighed by this newly offered fund.
In other Brexit news, Conservative backbenchers and members of the European Research
Group have this weekend signalled a shift in their opinions. After previously ruling out their
support for the PM they have now set three ‘tests’ that, if met, would mean they will support
the withdrawal agreement ahead of next week’s votes.
With a Brexit delay now gaining traction and Labour pushing for a second referendum, pro-
Brexit ministers see the likelihood of a no-deal disappearing and the best chance of Brexit
going ahead is to ensure that the Withdrawal agreement passes next week.
Thursday 28th February 2019
The third 'Next Step' vote was held yesterday evening following earlier promises from
the Prime Minister that there would be a 'meaningful' vote mid-March, with backup
votes should the PM be defeated again.
The surprise of the night was the Cooper Amendment (originally the Cooper/Letwin
Amendment) which won by 502 votes to 20. The vote was led by the opposition but in
effect reiterated the Prime Minister's position, leading to confusion amongst MPs about
which way to vote.
Confusion on the Tory benches - some not sure how they’re supposed to vote by the looks of it— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) February 27, 2019
20 Conservative MPs voted against the motion and the Prime Minister herself, with a
further 88 Tories, 10 Labour MPs, and 9 DUP ministers all abstaining on the vote. The
result is rather long winded, but it means that if Parliament 1) votes down May's deal
on March 12, 2) votes down no-deal on March 13, and 3) votes for an extension to
Article 50 on March 14 then the Prime Minister and the government have no choice but
to do as the House bids and apply to the European Union to extend Article 50 and move
the UK's exit date.
Speaker John Bercow selected five amendments to the Withdrawal Act:
Amendment A (Labour frontbench):
Proposes the House of Commons backing
Labour's approach to a Brexit deal rather than Theresa May's current deal.
Result: 323 against vs 240 for - Government wins
Amendment K (SNP):
The Scottish devolved government insist that the UK should
not leave the EU in a no-deal manner, regardless of the exit date.
Result: 324 against vs 288 for - Government wins
Amendment C (Spelman/Dromey):
A cross-party amendment designed to fix a date
of March 18 for the Prime Minister to come back to the House and give one of three
Result: Amendment withdrawn - Prime Minister offered an earlier deadline herself
Amendment B (Costa)
: Conservative MP Alberto Costa, PPS to the Scottish Minister,
proposed a joint UK/EU commitment to protecting citizen rights of UK nationals in
Europe and EU nationals in Britain.
Result: Unanimous House approval / Costa's forced resignation due to a breach of protocol
Amendment F (Cooper)
: Initially a cross-party amendment (before Letwin's withdrawal),
the amendment enshrined the agreement that if MPs voted to delay Brexit there would
be a subsequent move by the UK government to extend Article 50.
Result: 502 for vs 20 against - Amendment passes
Theresa May has assuaged fears of MPs in both parties that Brexit could end with the UK
crashing out in a no-deal scenario. After speaking in the House of Commons yesterday
afternoon, a second meaningful vote will be offered to MPs by March 12th at the latest –
giving the Prime Minister a chance to put forward any further amendments to her withdrawal
Should this result in another defeat for the government then a further vote will be held on
March 13th – with the House deciding whether to leave the EU without an agreement –
the dreaded ‘no-deal’. If MPs vote not to leave, which seems likely given the vocal opposition
of Labour and Conservative MPs to a no-deal, then a third vote will be held by March 14th
to decide on whether to submit a request for an extension to the deadline for Article 50.
The news is seen as the PM bowing down to pressure from both her own party and the
opposition to avoid a no-deal scenario at all costs. The proposed Cooper-Letwin Amendment,
that was due to be tabled today, had gained traction across the House, but has been
withdrawn in response to Theresa May’s promised votes.
Very good news. PM statement does what is needed to prevent no deal exit on 29 March and enables MPs to forge cross-party consensus on new way forward if PM's deal does not succeed on 12 March. No need now for Cooper-Letwin Bill.— Oliver Letwin (@oletwinofficial) 26 February 2019
Following Prime Minister’s Questions today, Parliament will spend the afternoon debating
and voting on the next steps of Brexit. Although this is not a meaningful vote, it will give
insight into the current support the PM might get on March 12th.
Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he will be tabling an amendment for Labour’s proposals of
a customs union and closer relationship to the single market – proposals that have been
discussed positively by both the EU and some MPs from both parties but with stern
opposition from Eurosceptics.
Tuesday 26th February 2019
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that the party will whip to back the Cooper/Letwin
Amendment for a second referendum in the event that Labour’s amendment to the
Withdrawal Act fails in the Commons on Wednesday.
The announcement yesterday evening is seen by many as a unification move by Corbyn,
following the loss of MPs to The Independent Group (TIG) and the threat of other MPs –
potentially led by Deputy Leader Tom Watson – to form a rival faction to the grassroots
Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary, took to Twitter last night to challenge
suggestions she ‘misspoke’ when explaining Labour’s approach, saying: “I've seen some
nonsense that I "misspoke" earlier on a public vote. Pretty hard to misspeak identically in
10 interviews, but for clarity: if Theresa May won't accept our deal, then the public must
decide: do we accept whatever deal she gets through, or do we Remain? Got it?”
Labour’s change of approach will be welcomed by many who are desperate for a no-deal
Brexit to be removed at all costs, with many businesses and advisory bodies arguing that
while the UK can cope with Brexit, the no-deal element is too much strain.
Following the Prime Minister’s meeting in Egypt over the weekend with EU-League of Arab
States summit, several government ministers have hinted that the Prime Minister might
agree to take no-deal off the table in order to avoid a second referendum, given the protracted
‘negotiations’ between May’s team and EU negotiators.
The government is already currently in a crisis meeting following an oversight for heat-treated
pallets. Non-EU countries must use these to trade with the EU to protect against pests and
microbes, and the UK has a severe shortage. There are also reports that while the UK will get
better rates on certain goods from South East Asia, general tariffs will rise sharply – with the
potential of an extra 40% on imported food.
The Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), Dr Adam Marshall, said in
a press release today: “At this pivotal moment, the government must take decisive steps to
avoid the damage that a messy and disorderly exit would cause to business and the economy
in just a month’s time.
“It is time to be honest. Government and its agencies are not prepared for a ‘no deal’ exit on
29th March. Neither are many businesses.
“The overriding priority must be to assure businesses, employees, investors and communities
that an unwanted ‘no deal’ scenario will not be allowed to happen by default on March 29th.”
The Prime Minister is due to speak to the House of Commons at 12:30pm today about tomorrow’s
Next Step Vote and the delayed Meaningful Vote on March 12th.
Monday 25th February 2019
MPs will have a new meaningful vote on Brexit by 12th March, just 17 days before the UK
is set to leave the EU. Parliament had hoped that this week would see MP’s given the
chance to vote, but the Prime Minister has delayed this a further two weeks, arguing
that negotiations are “still ongoing”.
The delay has been met with frustration by opponents, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
claiming that Theresa May is “recklessly running down the clock”.
Theresa May is putting the country at risk by recklessly running down the clock to force MPs to choose between her bad deal and a disastrous No Deal.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) 24 February 2019
Labour will work with MPs across the Commons to prevent No Deal, break the deadlock and build support for our alternative plan.
With the Brexit deadline edging closer, the risk of a no-deal is continuing to cause concern
among MPs and businesses. Calls for a no-deal to be taken off the table are growing and
the cross-party Cooper-Letwin amendment to the Withdrawal Act is growing in support.
Conservative cabinet ministers Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke have written in
the Daily Mail that they would be forced to back the bill if the ERG stood in the way of a
parliamentary majority. If the bill passed it would force the government to delay Brexit if
an agreement has not been reached by March 13th.
A delay to Brexit has not been officially ruled out by the Government, though it would be
unpopular with certain members of the Conservative Party who want to leave no matter
the cost. The Telegraph reports that plans have been drawn up by the Government that
could delay Brexit by two months – a move the Prime Minister had previously ruled out.
The EU has stated that they will consider an extension to Article 50's deadline if it can be
proven that it would break the deadlock in parliament.
Thursday 21st February 2019
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met with EU officials today following Theresa May's visit to
Brussels yesterday, with the leader of the opposition looking to improve relations with the
EU following strained talks with the government.
The Prime Minister is still pursuing additional guarantees or tweaks to the Irish backstop
proposal in order to satisfy concerned Eurosceptics in her party, but with the EU not willing
to budge for her demands progress is a non-starter.
In response to the political deadlock, Labour proposed a diluted version of their six-point
plan. The hope is to push through a Brexit deal and retain a degree of a customs union with
mainland Europe - a concession that EU negotiators said they could support.
Open & constructive discussions with @jeremycorbyn . Consensus that reckless no-deal should be off the table. As @Europarl_EN we repeated our plea for a broad majority in UK Parl for a deal & cross-party approach. We are open to an upgraded pol declaration as way forward. pic.twitter.com/pvq76mjbrI— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) February 21, 2019
Labour's proposals for a slightly watered down approach to their EU wishlist have been
met with opposition from the ERG and the DUP, which has weighed heavily on the PM
who subsequently won't concede to the opposition.
Theresa May has until February 27 before a new round of voting has to be presented to
MPs in the House of Commons. The hope for the Prime Minister is that she will have a
better Brexit deal to give to MPs, but if not then May will speak to the House on Tuesday,
with another Next Step Vote (no3) on Wednesday to try and decide which direction to
take the Withdrawal Agreement in.
Monday 18th February 2019
The UK Government’s hopes of wrapping up further trade deals in the event of a no-deal
Brexit have hit a snag this week after Japanese officials took offence at diplomatic
language used by Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox.
A letter from both the Foreign Secretary (Hunt) and the International Trade Secretary (Fox)
to the Japanese government stressed that “time is of the essence” – a phrasing that
Japan feels is a passive-aggressive accusation that they are taking their time.
An official response from the Japanese government is expected this week, but those involved
with the UK-Japan trade talks have spoken to reporters to suggest that it is Britain’s negotiating
team that has been the cause of any delays to a deal, lacking the specialists required to speed
up the deal and reach a mutual agreement.
The news comes days after China also cancelled a trade and finance meeting with Chancellor
Philip Hammond following the UK’s decision to send an aircraft carrier into the Pacific Ocean.
The clash is a little premature; the Queen Elizabeth carrier was commissioned in 2017 and is due
to become operational next year.
In other political news, seven MPs have quit the Labour Party today and launched The Independent
Group. Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, and
Angela Smith all quit in unison in protest against the current Labour frontbench. Speaking to
reporters in attendance, Luciana Berger described the Labour Party as “institutionally anti-Semitic”,
while Chris Leslie called the Labour leadership ideals “narrow and outdated”.
In response, Jeremy Corbyn expressed his sadness at the MPs leaving, arguing that Labour’s
performance at the last election – the party’s largest vote share since 1945 – showed that Labour’s
policies were winning people over. None of the seven voted for Corbyn in the first leadership
election in 2016, while five of seven voted for Liz Kendall MP – arguably the furthest right of the four
Friday 15th February 2019
Theresa May and her government lost yet another Brexit vote last night, with 303 votes to
258 against her motion of continuing to delay a Meaningful Vote while the government
negotiated the Irish backstop and terms further with EU officials.
The 45-vote majority has little legal ramifications, but it does serve as yet another wound
for the Prime Minister, with members of her own party - the ERG - responsible for the defeat
with their abstinence on the vote.
The fear, according to Tory MPs in the European Research Group, is that the PM's approach
will - by default - rule out a no-deal Brexit, which to the ERG could be a slippery slope into no
Brexit at all if the Prime Minister's deal keeps being voted down.
Brace yourself. It’s a long one today. The House of Commons is currently debating the Next
Step Vote that is to take place in the Chambers this evening.
The voting tonight is to determine whether MPs still back the government’s approach that
was agreed in last month’s vote and to allow Theresa May more time to negotiate with the
EU about the Irish backstop. Three motions have been selected for MPs to vote on by the
Speaker, beyond the primary motion requesting continued support of the government:
Amendment A (Labour, Corbyn) – Deadline of February 27th to present a Meaningful
Vote to the Commons or another Next Step Vote if negotiations fail
[DEFEATED - 306 ayes to 322 noes]
Amendment I (SNP, Blackford) – Calls to extend Article 50 for at least three months
beyond the end of March to allow further debate and negotiations
[DEFEATED - 93 ayes to 315 noes]
Amendment E (Conservatives, Soubry) – Instructs the government to publish, in full,
the most recent official briefing document about Brexit, business and trade within
seven days, including the implications of no-deal as presented to the Cabinet.
[Motion Withdrawn by Anna Soubry MP]
Sir Keir Starmer spoke in the Commons today against his opposite number, the Brexit
Secretary Stephen Barclay, and argued that he believes the Prime Minister is delaying
a Meaningful Vote (similar to the defeat in January) in order to reach a last-gasp point
of Deal or No Deal, and force MPs to back her deal after all.
The big obstacle for Theresa May isn’t the opposition though, it is the ERG (European
Research Group) of right-wing Tories in her own party. The ardent Brexit supporters are
unhappy at the suggestions that the government might take no-deal off the table, claiming
that it undermines the UK’s negotiating position.
What’s really evident about today’s Brexit debate is that it’s actually a negotiation between the Brexit Secretary and the ERG about whether they will support the Government motion rather than a negotiation about what’s best for the national interest.— Hilary Benn (@hilarybennmp) February 14, 2019
The ERG are currently in a meeting to decide on their voting allegiance, and whether
or not they will oppose fellow Conservative MP Anna Soubry’s motion to reveal all the
secret Cabinet papers on Brexit negotiations to the Commons.
According to one ERG source, the upside for the group is that the Prime Minister would
be embarrassed, and the data revealed about how bad no-deal looks will come across
more like scaremongering.
As ERG flex muscles (meet at 4pm), remainers are getting increasingly angry that PM is being ruled by a party in a party. And getting organised too. Told over 50 remainers on govt payroll are now prepared to block No Deal, whatever that requires— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) February 14, 2019
Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, led calls this morning to back the PM for fear
of undermining her authority in Europe, but was already under scrutiny himself following
the news that only £16 billion of the £117 billion in EU trade deals had been renegotiated
or re-established in some form. The comments of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in
the Spanish newspaper El Pais might also suggest the damage is done, with the Netherlands’
leader saying that the UK is “too small to appear on the world stage on its own”.
Brexit is costing UK economy £800m a week according to one of the Bank of England’s
leading economists. Gertjan Vlieghe, an external member of the Bank of England Monetary
Policy Committee, said the £40 billion a year figure was based on the fact that the UK economy
had lost 2% of GDP since the June 2016 Brexit referendum vote.
Speaking to reporters, Vlieghe said: “That 2% of GDP is not trivial, that’s £40bn or if you prefer
it in bus units, it’s £800m a week.”
The Guardian newspaper also reported Vlieghe’s comments about business investments, which
are reportedly hovering above zero after a 3.7% drop in 2018 (despite an upswing of 6% in the G7).
The report, published through the Bank of England website, also highlighted a slowdown in consumer
spending, which was caused by the Pound’s devaluation raising the price of goods and services.
The Resolution Foundation, who
recently reported a £1,500 loss per household since the referendum
result, posted on Twitter that concerns about Brexit have escalated as the deadline comes ever closer.
Jan Vlieghe notes from conversations with firms that their attitude post-vote was business as usual. However, as we have got closer to the Brexit deadline, firm behaviour has shifted and investment has contracted as the uncertainty has become more acute— ResolutionFoundation (@resfoundation) February 14, 2019
The Brexit woes continued with additional criticism from construction firm Galliford Try,
who published their half-year results today. In their statement, the firm said that public
and private sector projects were being delayed while investors waited for resolution of
Brexit and for a clearer direction of UK trade with the European Union.
Tuesday 12th February 2019
Theresa May issued a statement to the House of Commons today arguing that she
needed further time to negotiate with the EU and officials in order to seek better resolution
of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Prime Minister told the House that she would fast-track the Brexit deal if it seemed
like the government was running out of time to pass it before the deadline at the end of
March - something which reporters are claiming sounds like a last minute or deadline vote.
Before Xmas I was told by one senior cabinet minister that Mays plan was to keep delaying vote until there was no option left but her deal. Nothing I’ve seen since has made me think she’s come even an inch off course.The trips to Brussels /chats with labour are window dressing 1/— emily m (@maitlis) February 12, 2019
Emily Maitlis, one of the BBC's senior journalists, took to Twitter to highlight a chat she
had with one Tory MP months ago, and how their conversation was ringing true after
three months of delays and dispute.
The PM came under fire during her Commons statement after suggesting that she wanted
to deal to happen before Christmas, despite the fact that she cancelled the vote and pushed
it back into January. The likely next date for a vote is to be February 27th, though this will
depend on the outcome of this Thursday's vote in the chamber.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today proposed a new approach for Parliament to break
the Brexit deadlock, with a five point checklist of what the UK needs from the Withdrawal
Agreement in order for MPs to pass it through the Commons. The plan states that the UK
would need to have a permanent and comprehensive customs union that applied to the
whole UK, 'close' alignment to the single market, similar alignments on rights and protections
to ensure UK standards keep up, clear commitments on which EU agencies and programmes
the UK can and can't get involved in despite Brexit, and very clear agreements with regards
shared security matters.
The wishlist is more of a concession than Labour had previously been willing to offer, and the
timing gives both Theresa May and the European Council something to think about in today's
discussions in Brussels. Some Labour MPs, including Chuka Umunna and Owen Smith, have
voiced their unhappiness with the Labour front benches and the latest approach, but with 36
working days left until the UK leaves the EU, and with the Prime Minister insisting it's a deal
or no-deal scenario and not 'No Brexit', the Labour Party is stuck between a rock and a hard
place; upset the public or upset the party.
In anticipation of today's EU talks, the Pound has fallen by 0.3% to $1.29 as investors wait and
see what will happen in negotiations. The Pound has been performing reasonably well of late
against the Dollar and the Euro, with the Federal Shutdown and weak Eurozone manufacturing
figures, but the return of the No Deal threat has scared investors once again.
One man who may be regretting his words is Mark Carney - Chairman of the Bank of England.
Carney said on January 17 that No Brexit was more likely than No Deal; a belief that seem to
have all but vanished now. At midday today the Bank of England are due to hold their last
'Super Thursday' before the Brexit deadline, with Carney due to report whether there will be any
changes to the UK interest rate, as well as other economic performance figures. The expectation
is no rise from the current 0.75% rate, given that inflation is back down to 2.1% (marginally above
the Bank's target of 2%) and the global economy has been slowing down since November which
might adjust future UK growth forecasts.
Wednesday 6th February 2019
With Theresa May away in Northern Ireland today, PMQs duties fell on David Lidington
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. As per protocol, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
was not present due to the absence of the PM, with Emily Thornberry stepping in at the
Brexit was the sole focus of the exchanges between the two, with Thornberry questioning
why the Prime Minister could not see that the one hurdle stopping a Brexit deal passing
was that of the customs union. Lidington responded that the best way to avoid no-deal
was to back May’s deal.
Before PMQs at midday, the Commons Business Committee met to speak with Greg Clark,
the Business Secretary, and with Liam Fox, the International Trade secretary. Clark warned
MPs present that the deadline for Brexit was a lot closer than people expected, due to the
shipping times for British goods to eastern Asia.
Clark did tow the party line that it’s deal or no-deal as the options for Brexit at present, that
extending Article 50 is very unlikely, and that revoking Article 50 is unacceptable. Clark also
hinted that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, he would resign his position within the cabinet.
Quizzed by Rachel Reeves on no-deal, Clark said that “many people on all sides of the House
that would regard that as unacceptable.”
Despite Theresa May going back on her agreement with the ERG to remove the Irish backstop
and arrange alternatives with the EU, Dr Liam Fox told Angus MacNeil that “we are closer to
an agreement than we have been at any point." Fox also responded to the suggestions in
yesterday’s Huffington Post that the government would remove all import tariffs in a no-deal
scenario, something which Fox said he personally opposes but was a collective decision for
It might be the case that these tariff reductions are a necessary incentive, however. The latest
report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research says that while the economy
will certainly be worse off post-Brexit, recession could be avoided with the correct contingency
plans – such as tax cuts, tariff reductions, and increased public spending. NIESR’s data shows
zero growth in the first two years after Brexit but does not estimate the longer term state of the
Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, took a leaf out of namesake Donald Trump’s
book early this afternoon by turning to Twitter to vent his frustrations.
I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted #Brexit , without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) February 6, 2019
The response from Conservative MPs has been calls for apologies, but Sinn Fein’s president,
Mary Lou McDonald, told reporters that those MPs who instigated the Leave campaign had
“acted with absolute contempt for this country, utter disregard for the experiences of Irish
people north and south, with utter disregard for the peace process that has been collectively
built over decades.”
Theresa May began a two-day visit to Northern Ireland today, giving a press conference
in Belfast following discussions with DUP ministers in the capital. The PM stressed her
“unshakeable” commitment to the Good Friday agreement and her intention to negotiate
with EU leaders and officials on Thursday.
May will meet with the DUP again tomorrow, as well as Northern Ireland’s other main party
- Sinn Féin. The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of speaking to both unionists
and nationalists and said that she wants to see a return of the devolved administration in
Sinn Féin’s vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, spoke to reporters after the PM’s speech today
and said: “Theresa May has made an enormous U turn and an act of gross bad faith by
reneging in her commitments on the backstop. We heard nothing new from her today. We
need to see the Irish government and EU27 holding firm and defending the backstop.”
Following her speech, the Prime Minister took questions from both national and local
reporters, with one journalist suggesting she had “shafted” local businesses who wanted
the backstop as an insurance policy.
Theresa May's face when she's told she's "shafted" Northern Irish business leaders over Brexit: pic.twitter.com/HsJ15MD1P4— Matt Dathan (@matt_dathan) February 5, 2019
The Prime Minister responded to criticism of the Irish backstop proposals – something
she has already voted against – by saying that her re-negotiations with the European
Union would be to change the backstop rather than remove it from the Withdrawal
Agreement altogether. This prompted a swift response from the European Research
Group of Tory MPs, with one source telling The Guardian newspaper that “Even if she
doesn’t mean what she said, we still do.”
Monday 4th February 2019
Airline Ryanair has revealed it lost
€19.6m (£17.1m) in the third quarter of 2018. The
company revised its profit forecast down to €1 billion, with airfares down 6% for the
year. Chief executive Michael O’Leary describing the news as "disappointing".
O'Leary went on to issue a warning that the chances of a hard Brexit were “worryingly
high” and risked damaging the company's revenues further in 2019.
In an official statement, the firm said:
“We cannot rule out further cuts to air fares and/or
slightly lower full-year guidance especially if there are unexpected Brexit and/or security
developments which adversely impact fares for close-in bookings between now and the
end of March."
New figures out from Markit also showed that UK construction PMI has fallen,
the recent manufacturing slump. Construction fell from 52.8 points in December to 50.6
points in January. The point of stagnation is 50, and any lower is a regression.
Friday 1st February 2019
The Institute of Directors has today warned that nearly 1 in 3 businesses have prepared
for relocation in the event of a harder Brexit or a no-deal scenario. The IoD surveyed
1,200 of its members and found that 29% of companies (348) had plans to either relocate
or partially relocate in order to maintain smooth operations.
10% of the IoD's members had already moved part of their business to Europe - whether
Ireland or the mainland - in preparation for March's official withdrawal date. Sony were
amongst the big names to leave the UK, but the IoD's Interim Director General, Edwin
Morgan, warned of the impact on smaller businesses - many of whom have tighter
finances and are taking a high risk to pursue the lesser of two evils.
“We can no more ignore the real consequences of delay and confusion than business
leaders can ignore the hard choices that they face in protecting their companies" said Morgan.
“Change is a necessary and often positive part of doing business, but the unavoidable
disruption and increased trade barriers that no deal would bring are entirely unproductive.”
Thursday 31st January 2019
Barclays Bank has announced it will move nearly £170 billion worth of assets from the UK
to Ireland in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. The company received approval from the High
Court to move €190 billion from London to Dublin, and has announced it will double the Irish
capital's staff count from 150 to 300 to assist with the additional asset holdings.
In other economic news, the Nationwide Building Society has reported that house price
growth is slowing down - now only 0.1% higher year-on-year. This is down from the 0.5%
growth reported in December, but December was down 0.7% when compared to November
2018. The figures are the lowest since February 2013. As a result of the struggling house
prices, Foxtons have reported that they have lost 80% of their annual profits in the past year
- down from £15 million to £3 million.
Wednesday 30th January 2019
Theresa May's government won 6 of the 7 votes on Brexit bill amendments last night, with a
surprising vote by the Prime Minister against her own deal and the Irish backstop that she
fought to attain from the EU.
The Brady Amendment, known as Amendment N, was proposed in an attempt to give the
Prime Minister the parliamentary authority to return to the EU and attempt renegotiations;
an option that EU leaders and officials are saying is not possible and will not be entertained.
The results of yesterday's voting can be seen below:
Amendment A: Jeremy Corbyn & Labour's amendment to extend Article 50
Ayes: 296. Noes 327. Motion defeated.
Amendment O: Ian Blackford & the SNP's amendment for an extension, taking
into account Scotland's majority vote for remaining in the EU.
Ayes: 39. Noes 327. Motion defeated.
Amendment G: Conservative MP Dominic Grieve's amendment to block other business
interrupting progress when debating the Withdrawal Agreement or amendments.
This would specifically force the government to grant MPs time to discuss alternatives
to the government's Brexit plan - approximately six days of Commons debate.
Ayes: 301. Noes 321. Motion defeated.
Amendment B: Labour MP Yvette Cooper's amendment that Brexit discussions will
take precedence in the order of business for the Commons on any given day, and that
Parliament can decide what classes as Brexit business.
Ayes: 298. Noes: 321. Motion defeated.
Amendment J: Labour MP Rachel Reeves' amendment that there be a two-year
extension to Article 50.
Ayes: 290. Noes: 322. Motion defeated.
Amendment I: Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman's amendment that a No
Deal outcome is not permissible.
Ayes: 318. Noes: 310. Motion passes (government defeat)
Amendment N: Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady's amendment to replace the
Irish backstop with alternatives.
Ayes: 317. Noes: 301. Motion passes (government victory)
Tuesday 29th January 2019
MPs are currently sitting in the House of Commons to debate Theresa May's Plan B for
Brexit. The Prime Minister has come under fire in the past week due to the lack of alteration
to create this plan, which many critics say is effectively Plan A in a new guise. The Prime
Minister has promised to re-enter negotiations with Europe, having previously ruled
it out, and stressed she will seek new legal safeguards to ensure no hard border between
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland happens.
The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, has selected seven of 15 proposed amendments
to May's Plan B. These are:
- Amendment A: Jeremy Corbyn & Labour's amendment to extend Article 50.
Amendment O: Ian Blackford & the SNP's amendment for an extension, taking
into account Scotland's majority vote for remaining in the EU.
Amendment G: Dominic Grieve (Conservative) 's amendment to block other business
interrupting progress when debating the Withdrawal Agreement or amendments.
This specifically forces the government to grant MPs time to discuss alternatives
to the government's Brexit plan - approximately six days of Commons debate.
Amendment B: Yvette Cooper (Labour) 's amendment that Brexit discussions will
take precedence in the order of business for the Commons on any given day.
Amendment J: Rachel Reeves (Labour) 's amendment that there be a two-year
extension to Article 50.
Amendment I: Dame Caroline Spelman (Conservative) 's amendment that a No
Deal outcome is not permissible.
Amendment N: Sir Graham Brady (Conservative) 's amendment to replace the
Irish backstop with alternatives.
One rumour currently circulating is that of a Plan C - the Malthouse Plan; a compromise that
suggests a minor free trade agreement, an extended transition period (plus one year), and
renegotiation over the Irish backstop. Many MPs, including DUP officials, have said they will
support this plan but the European Commission and all 27 member states have issued a
statement in unison this afternoon reiterating the fact that the Brexit deal already rejected is
the one and only deal available to the United Kingdom, and there will be no renegotiation.
The second vote on the government's Brexit deal will take place tonight at approximately 7pm,
with voting expected to be completed within the hour and a statement either in the Commons,
or outside No10 Downing Street, likely to follow shortly after.
Full terminology and explanation of the proposed amendments can be found
on the official
UK Parliament website.
Monday 28th January 2019
11 retail CEOs, and the Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, have written
to the government to warn of the serious risks of disruption in the event of a no-deal
Bosses from Asda, Waitrose, the Co-op, Sainsbury's, and Marks & Spencer issued the
joint letter to stress the significant disruption that would face food supplies in the event
of no deal being agreed, with shortages in the face of import tariffs from the EU - where
almost 1/3 of British food comes from.
There were similar warnings over the weekend too, with the suggestion that the army and
armed police may be deployed onto the streets to enact Martial Law in the event of post-
The response from the Pound Sterling was a 0.3% drop against the US Dollar, hitting $1.3162,
and a 0.15 drop against the Euro to 86.57p. Gold is at £989.74 per ounce; up £5 from today's
low and down £2 per ounce from the peak spot price.
Friday 25th January 2019
Chancellor Philip Hammond insists that British businesses need to accept that Brexit is
going to happen, and to focus on backing that rather than fearing a no-deal outcome.
The chancellor told attendees that "We need to get the politics right” and said "it would
be a pyrrhic victory to meet the needs of the economy, but by shattering the broad
economic consensus behind our country’s political and economic system.”
Hammond was a busy man yesterday in Davos, holding a rapid succession of quick
meetings with senior officials and leaders from across the EU and beyond, but it was
his business lunch with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that stood out.
With no Theresa May at the World Economic Forum it means Hammond is the chief
delegate from the UK, and the message was simple: anything but a Brexit deal is a
betrayal of the British public.
Another British institution seeking to prepare for Brexit is the BBC, with the Director
General, Tony Hall, having met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as part
of the corporation's preparations for life after the EU. The BBC is reportedly also
looking at the Netherlands and Ireland in order to retain its licenses for international
broadcasting, with channels such as BBC World and BBC Entertainment at risk.
Thursday 24th January 2019
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair believes that Brexit is "a complete mess" and that Theresa
May needs to get on with a second referendum. Speaking to Bloomberg News at the World
Economic Forum in Davos, Blair said that while he believes some of May's own party are
being unreasonable, so much has changed that a second referendum and a people's vote
is the logical way forward to move away from the Brexit stalemate in Parliament.
The CEO of Airbus has also released a video today, calling the UK government "a disgrace" and
asking the public to not allow a no-deal scenario to happen, saying that there are no guarantees
(as seen by Dyson's move to Singapore) that companies currently based in Britain will stay here
post-Brexit if there is no deal; even if they promised to stay during the negotiation period.
In the video, Tom Enders said: "We, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for
clarity. But we still have no idea what is really going on here."
Monday 21st January 2019
The Prime Minister has announced her Plan B to the House of Commons this afternoon, telling
MPs that she would abandon the £65 fee for EU nationals to stay in the UK post-Brexit. May also
argued that she would pursue changes to the Irish backstop for the border, as well as improved
worker rights, but refused a second referendum or to rule out a No Deal scenario, with reporters
such as ITN's Paul Brand claiming this is, in essence, still Plan A.
the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has reported a surge in warehouse
demand due to Brexit stockpiling, with 75% of its members unable to accommodate further
storage requests at present.
One final bit of Brexit news was the discussion of 'shrinkflation'; the act of products being
reduced in size or quantity whilst remaining the same price. Figures from the Office for
National Statistics show that 206 supermarket items shrunk between September 2015
and June 2017, with analysts attributing this to Brexit's pressures on future trading and a
potential hit to supply.
The Prime Minister and her government survived a vote of no confidence last night, orchestrated
by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with 325 votes in support of the current UK government and
306 MPs voting against it.
Northern Ireland's DUP, who have propped the government up with their support to avoid a hung
parliament, voted down Theresa May's Brexit deal but supported her in last night's vote. Had
their 10 MPs voted against the PM and her administration then the vote would have been 315-316
and the government would have been dissolved.
May spoke outside No10 Downing Street after the result last night to promise cross-party talks in
"a constructive spirit" and stressed that " MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest,
reach a consensus and get this done". The opposition response from Labour and the SNP is that
until No Deal is taken off the table there will be no negotiation from their side.
The government now has until January 21 to present an alternative plan to Parliament. Theresa
May is expected to meet with her own party's Brexiteers today, as well as the DUP, while David
Lidington - with the help of Michael Gove, Steve Barclay, and Gavin Barwell - is reportedly in charge
of discussions with opposition MPs.
Wednesday 16th January 2019
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last night called for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May's
Conservative government after the Prime Minister suffered the largest defeat in the history
of the Commons for a ruling party.
May's Brexit Withdrawal Agreement lost by 432-202 votes, and subsequently the leader of
the opposition launched his challenge to try and remove the government from office and to
trigger a general election. Mr Corbyn's motion was heard this afternoon after Prime Minister's
Questions, and will be voted on in Parliament this evening at around 7pm, with the votes
expected to be revealed around 8pm.
The opposition motion is expected to lose by many - including Labour's own Shadow Chancellor,
John McDonnell - but the hope from opposition MPs is that it will push the government away
from a No Deal scenario and towards a second referendum.
Tuesday 15th January 2019
An amendment to the government's Withdrawal Agreement motion made by Labour MP
Hilary Benn has been withdrawn this morning, ahead of tonight's vote in Parliament.
Benn took to Twitter
to explain why he had pulled the amendment, which was initially
put forward to reject both Theresa May's deal and a No Deal scenario. He argues that it
is still his wish to avoid a no-deal outcome, but that is a matter for a future vote and that
tonight must be purely focussed on whether or not May's Brexit deal is acceptable or not.
Journalists, political insiders, and bookmakers are all predicting a large defeat for the
Prime Minister this evening, with many Tory MPs expected to rebel against their leader.
Michael Gove MP
(Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is also
trending online today after he clashed with political journalist Nick Robinson, with the
BBC veteran accusing Gove of "endlessly talking" during their interview in order to avoid
scrutiny. Speaking in defence of the government this morning, Gove argued that May's
deal was the right one and MPs should back it, before then quoting HBO drama 'Game
of Thrones' to say that "Winter is coming" if May's deal isn't approved in the Commons.
Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent of the Financial Times, had this to say about
Michael Gove's Brexit positions over the past few years:
“The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want.” – Michael Gove, April 2016.— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) January 15, 2019
“Winter is coming.” - Michael Gove, January 2019
Tonight's vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal is due to take place at around 7pm, with the
potential for a 30 minute delay to hear any last minute business before ministers leave to
go and cast their votes. The results are expected around 10pm.
Away from the vote, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson spoke out on LBC radio this
morning to criticise the chairman of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Professor Dr Ralf Speth, for
claiming that Brexit was impacting the company's manufacturing output and sales. When
challenged by host Nick Ferrari that Speth knows more about car manufacturing, Johnson
said: " I’m not certain he does" before citing his support for electric vehicles ahead of the
likes of JLR pursuing interest.
Monday 14th January 2019
Theresa May today warned that no Brexit was more likely than a no-deal scenario, and told
MPs that they risk "betraying the vote of the British people" if they don't support her Brexit
deal tomorrow when voting in the House of Commons.
The Prime Minister was at a pottery factory in Stoke-on-Trent this morning and told reporters
that her deal offered a compromise that avoided the damage of no deal while respecting
the referendum vote. Mrs May will appear in Parliament later, speaking to MPs at 3:30pm
before the Brexit debating between members resumes.
Friday 11th January 2019
Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), today
warned that the UK risked losing thousands of jobs and an 8% drop in GDP if a no-deal
Brexit scenario occurred this year.
Speaking at Bristol's Old Vic Theatre to business leaders from the south-west, Fairbairn
said that the country's manufacturing and services sectors were at serious risk if Parliament
didn't choose May's deal or to reject Brexit altogether.
Fairbairn also defended MPs for their voting actions to limit the government's time to propose
a Plan B should May's Brexit deal be voted down next Tuesday evening.
"Each MP is democratically chosen to safeguard the security and prosperity of our country"
said Fairbairn. " And next week, they face a test. If they meet it with yet more brinkmanship,
the whole country could face a no-deal, disorderly Brexit."
The Pound gained ground today, boosting the FTSE 100 stock exchange during early trading,
with the London Evening Standard (edited by former Tory chancellor George Osborne)
reporting that the Brexit deadline of 29th March was now pretty much untenable in the face
of how many proposals must be debated in the House of Commons before that time. In
response to the strong suggestion that the deadline would therefore have to be extended, the
Pound Sterling reached a high point of $1.284 before falling back slightly.
Thursday 10th January 2019
Total sales growth for the retail sector hit zero for the first time since the financial crash, new
reports show, with shops experiencing the worst Christmas in 10 years. Sales dropped by
0.7% in December, as opposed to a 0.6% rise in 2017. The only retail area that performed
well was food, sales of which were 0.6% higher compared to the previous December.
The news isn't a huge surprise given the ongoing Brexit disruption, with consumer research
group GfK reporting last month that UK consumer confidence was the lowest for five years.
Wednesday 9th January 2019
The government made it two defeats in two days after MPs voted in favour of limiting the
government's deadline for proposing a Plan B should Theresa May's Brexit deal be defeated in
the Commons next Tuesday. Before the vote the Prime Minister had 21 days to prepare and
present an alternative option, but now Parliament has massively reduced this to just three
days - a strong signal that a second referendum would be the preferred next step for many MPs.
The amendment, put forward by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve QC, won by 11 votes (four
more than yesterday's vote) and effectively stops Theresa May running the clock down to the
deadline, in what Yvette Cooper (pictured below) and others are calling 'brinkmanship'.
There was also criticism from the Freight Transport Association today, with James Hookham -
Deputy Chief Executive of the FTA - telling Business Insider: “I’m not going to let the logistics
industry take the fall for political indulgence. It’ll be messy, expensive and not end well, and
[has been] caused by people who suffer from ignorance or privilege. Or both."
Tuesday 8th January 2019
The government suffered another defeat in the House of Commons as Labour MP Yvette Cooper's
amendment to the Finance Bill was passed in the chamber by seven votes, with 20 Conservative
MPs backing her change to the legislation.
The bill won with 303 votes for versus 296 against, and is the first finance bill to be defeated since
1978. The amendments will now limit the government's capability to alter taxes in the event of a
no-deal Brexit scenario.A government spokesperson described the defeat as "inconvenient rather
than significant". Click here to read the full story via our News section.
In other Brexit news, the World Bank warned that leaving with no deal could threaten the UK's trade
relationships with nations sat outside the EU borders, such as those in North Africa and the Balkan
states. The report issued by the World Bank highlighted the current degree of trade obstruction
caused by the US/China trade war, and suggested a similar outcome for Europe in this scenario.
Monday 7th January 2019
MPs, journalists and activists were verbally abused and intimidated outside of Parliament today as
protestors accused them of lying about the downsides of Brexit. The pro-Brexit supporters, some of
whom were known right-wing supporters, were filmed by news outlets shouting obscenities at MPs
and reporters. Several chose to follow prominent figures, such as Sky News' Kay Burley and The
Guardian's Owen Jones, with a barrage of sexist and homophobic comments made against the pair.
As the footage below from the BBC shows, protestors emulating the Gilet Jaune (yellow jackets) of
France were also following Conservative MP Anna Soubry, one of the few Remain voting Tories, and
bombarding her with questions while surrounding her and shouting.
A cross-party complaint has been submitted to the Metropolitan Police chief since the incidents,
with MPs from all parties expressing their concerns about public order and security - especially
around College Green - with the chief complaint that while many protestors behaved responsibly,
some crossed the line.
Elsewhere, the government also undertook a small-scale lorry exercise in Kent, with 100 trucks testing
the potential problems of road congestion that may occur in the event of no deal being passed through
Parliament. The Department for Transport told news outlets that the test went well and traffic was
smooth, but some critics pointed out that 10,000 lorries visit the Channel ports daily and that this test
of 100 vehicles could not possibly reflect the potential problems accurately.
Friday 4th January 2019
Democratic Unionist Party MP Sammy Wilson has told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this
morning that there is "no way" that the DUP would back Theresa May's Brexit deal, with the
Prime Minister now in discussions with EU officials about the legality of the Irish border
and the backstop.
Mrs May has repeatedly argued that the backstop - contingency plan - should not be needed, but
the DUP argue its existence is propaganda that threatens Northern Ireland with the prospect of a
return to a hard border.
Wednesday 2nd January 2019
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt believes that the UK can learn from Singapore in terms
of how to operate as a more independent economic force.
Mr Hunt was visiting the city-state to start the New Year and argued that the UK would
benefit from copying investment priorities for education and infrastructure and could
become a high-tech economy.
Some have pointed out that Singapore is part of ASEAN - the Association of South East
Asian Nations - which is a partnership programme between countries in that region.
As part of this partnership there is a degree of free movement for workers and shared
laws, similar to the practices of the EU, suggesting the UK may not be able to replicate
Singapore's successes, but the technicality involved is that there's cooperation, not legal
bindings, so were the UK to leave the EU then perhaps such a position would be adopted.
Wednesday 19th December 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May will meet today with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola
Sturgeon, and the newly appointed First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, as well as
representatives from the Northern Irish Assembly. This afternoon's meeting in Downing
Street will be to discuss Brexit primarily, with the focus expected to be on the growing
level of preparations for a No Deal.
Some are accusing Theresa May of playing chicken with her political opponents; going
close to the wire to make MPs choose between her deal and no deal, rather than pushing
for a second referendum, but with the Chancellor announcing a further £2 billion of Brexit
precautionary funding, plenty feel the threat of a bad breakaway from the EU is a very
Talks are expected to be difficult between May and Sturgeon, with the latter having previously
said that the Prime Minister needs to "face up to reality" and extend Article 50 and the Brexit
Tuesday 18th December 2018
The Liberal Democrats, Green Party, and Scottish National Party have jointly submitted a motion
of No Confidence in the UK Government, calling on the Labour Party and leader Jeremy Corbyn
to join their action.
Mr Corbyn had tried to instigate a vote of no confidence in Theresa May herself on Monday, with
the aim of swinging Tory rebels and the DUP on side for what was an unofficial vote and effectively
a PR exercise. The government said they refused to hear the motion in Tuesday's activity in the
Commons, on the grounds that it was a stunt, but the amendments by fellow opposition parties
mean the motion should be legitimised now as a full blown challenge to the government.
It is expected that the motion will be submitted to the Speaker of the House tomorrow.
Thursday 13th December 2018
Theresa May survived a vote of No Confidence in her party leadership last night, winning by a margin
of 200 votes in favour of her compared to 117 against. May's victory means she is unopposable for
the next year in terms of her party leadership.
Some MPs - both rebels in her own party and from the opposition - pointed out that of her 200 votes,
150 people were employed by her within government, while others suggested her ploy of announcing
that she would step down at the end of her term as Prime Minister was a way of limiting opposition
and in-fighting as nobody wanted to appear too opportunistic.
The next step is likely to be a vote of no confidence in the government from the Labour Party, though
the DUP and ERG (European Research Group of Conservatives) have said they will back the Prime
Minister, making the mathematics of calling a general election quite unlikely. An alternate, unofficial
vote of no confidence in Theresa May might be an option, in the hope of presenting the Prime Minister
as unwanted within the Commons to the wider United Kingdom.
Conservative MPs last night initiated a motion of No Confidence against the Prime Minister,
having crossed the required threshold of 48 letters of opposition to Theresa May's continued
Conservative Party leadership.
Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee, is the chief of Tory backbenchers and
the designated official who can instigate the motion after receiving enough letters expressing
no confidence in the party leader. Sky News deputy political editor Beth Rigby tweeted yesterday
at 8am that it was believed that Mr Brady had received the required total, while late evening
Robert Peston tweeted a similar claim.
The announcement came at 7:45am this morning, with the Prime Minister giving a statement at
around 8:45am declaring that she will stand in the contest. She will speak to the 1922 Committee
at 5pm today, before voting begins at 6pm and ends at 8pm. The results of the vote, or at least
the first round of voting, are expected at 9pm UK time.
Below you can see the BBC footage of the Prime Minister's statement this morning:
Monday 10th December 2018
Almost a week after the Attorney-General of the European Court of Justice said that the
UK should be able to walk away from Brexit without needing the permission of the other
27 member states, the court has now officially ruled that this statement is indeed correct
and, so long as a democratic decision is taken (either by public vote or in Parliament)
then the act of aborting Brexit would be considered legal and legitimate.
Lawyer David Allen Green, a contributor to the Financial Times and a blogger under the name
'Jack of Kent', published a thread on Twitter today explaining his insight into the matter. Mr
Green says that the UK can change its mind on Brexit until the Withdrawal Agreement is
signed and extended. If that is concluded then this is over, but until it is this option remains
active. Allen Green also points out that if the Article 50 deliberation period is extended then the
revocation right also extends with it.
Tomorrow evening will see the House of Commons vote whether to proceed with Theresa May's
negotiated EU deal or whether to vote it down. The current odds are against her, hence the large
diagram from The Times below, but given today's ECJ ruling there may be a surprise in the works
from Conservative MPs keen to save face.
Wednesday 5th December 2018
The Times newspaper today issued a handy visual guide to next Tuesday's Brexit vote,
and the multitude of scenarios that may result from a No vote against Theresa May.
The colourful diagram has gained popularity quickly throughout the day, with news
outlets across the world retweeting and republishing the piece that explains the tricky
situation the UK government and Parliament as a whole now faces.
A motion to charge the UK Government with contempt of Parliament was heard this afternoon
in the House of Commons, with MPs from all parties present to argue for and against the
government's position of refusing to expand on the legal assistance given by the Attorney
General, Geoffrey Cox. The Commons voted in favour of charging the government with contempt,
and demanded that the government share the legal documents in full with the rest of the house.
The leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, agreed to the demands and insisted that the
documents would be available sometime tomorrow.
The UK Government suffered three voting defeats in total today, with Members of Parliament
also voting that, in the event of Theresa May's current EU deal being voted down, then the
Commons would get another vote after a 'Plan B' was presented to the House - a plan due
within 21 days of Plan A failing to be approved. The vote for the current UK/EU exit is to take
place next Tuesday evening.
Earlier, the Bank of England chairman Mark Carney, along with
deputy governors Ben Broadbent,
Sir Jon Cunliffe and Sam Woods all testified to the Treasury Select Committee in Parliament
about last week's No Deal Brexit forecast, with MPs quizzing the governors about their findings,
their methods, and their insights into the future of the UK economy in different scenarios.
Today is also the first of five (working) days of Parliamentary debate about the UK's Brexit
deal with the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May will be part of eight hours of debate in the
chamber each day, due to begin mid-afternoon today. After the debates the House of
Commons will then vote whether to accept or reject the deal, with the vote expected to be
held on the evening of Tuesday 11th December.
The timing is perhaps more than coincidental too, with the European Court of Justice's
advocate general reporting today that the UK should be able to legally just walk away from
Brexit. This hasn't been 100% confirmed by the ECoJ, but Scottish MPs presented the
question to the court and were told that a nation does not need the consent of the other
member states to change its mind on a course of action.
Monday 3rd December 2018
Sir Keir Starmer QC, Labour's
Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and
former head of the CPS, has this evening called for contempt proceedings against the UK Government
after its refusal to publish the typically confidential legal advice it received from the Attorney
General, Geoffrey Cox.
Labour joined up with the Lib Dems, SNP, the DUP and Plaid Cymru to trigger the 'Contempt of
Parliament' challenge on the grounds that Mr Cox had failed to reveal the full legal advice given
to the government with regards the recently agreed Brexit deal with the EU.
The AG issued a statement detailing the legal position of the UK Government in the Commons,
but went no further. MPs then debated a motion that the government SHOULD release this
information - a motion that comfortably passed in the House.
In response to the challenge, the Speaker of the House - John Bercow - said that there was ‘an
arguable case that a contempt has been committed’ and agreed to hold an emergency debate
early tomorrow with the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.
Tuesday 27th November 2018
US President Donald Trump has suggested that the UK's deal with the EU over Brexit is vastly
more beneficial to the European Union and may completely block trade between the UK and
the United States in the future.
Mr Trump, who can be seen speaking to reporters below, said he believes that Theresa May
needs to look at the deal again and make amendments.
A spokesman for 10 Downing Street states that President Trump's interpretation of the deal
was wrong, saying: “The political declaration we have agreed with the EU is very clear we will
have an independent trade policy so that the UK can sign trade deals with countries around
the world – including with the US.”
The Prime Minister appeared on Channel 4 News shortly after this statement to repeat the
message, stating "We will be able to strike trade deals around the rest of the world."
Leaders of the 27 member states in the European Union have voted unanimously to approve
the UK Brexit deal, as initially agreed between negotiators nearly two weeks ago. The vote
had been under some threat from France over fishing rights and Spain over an existing
trade deal with Gibraltar, but both countries voted in line with the rest of the EU.
EU27 has endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relations.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) November 25, 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May now has to present the deal to the UK Parliament in the House of
Commons for approval. Her argument is that this is the best deal the UK was going to get and
the public "do not want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit" but with heavy opposition
from inside and outside her party it's looking unlikely the proposals will pass through the Commons.
Friday 23rd November 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit negotiators agreed the brief political blurb
to accompany the 585-page legal document for the UK/EU Brexit deal yesterday with
Jean-Claude Juncker and fellow EU negotiators, ahead of further meetings tomorrow
The EU 27 member states will then vote on the agreement on Sunday, with 20 out of 27
required to vote in favour for the deal to be approved by the European Council. Following
this the PM will then have to return to the House of Commons to present the deal formally
to MPs, which is currently expected to be rejected. ITV News and Buzzfeed News are both
reporting around 88 Tory MPs in open opposition to the plan, not including the opposition
from coalition partners the DUP, and inevitable opposition from the Labour Party.
Wednesday 21st November 2018
The chairman of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, lent his support to the government's
Brexit deal yesterday, telling the Treasury select committee that the draft deal was better
than the disastrous outcome of no deal, and that it would would “support economic
outcomes” that would be beneficial for the UK.
Mr Carney warned of an
“unprecedented supply shock” were the United Kingdom to reach
next March without some form of deal in place; a shock that would cost output and jobs,
while diminishing wages and raising inflation.
Tuesday 20th November 2018
John Allan, the chairman of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), lent support to Theresa
May's Brexit deal in a speech yesterday, arguing that while the EU deal isn't as good as was
hoped for, it's a starting point to be worked from rather than something to be thrown away altogether.
Speaking at the CBI's annual conference, Mr Allan avoided focusing on Brexit, instead choosing
to focus on the future and Generation Z; the youth of today who the CBI feels may be left behind
as home ownership and pensions become less achievable in a climate of economic uncertainty.
Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition spoke at the event, with the Prime Minister
following Mr Allan as the opening act of the conference. Theresa May said she " had a very clear
sense of the outcomes I wanted to deliver for people in these negotiations” and that "it is important
that we focus on the new relationship we want to build with the EU", adding that businesses need to
“step up to demonstrate that you truly have a stake in the success of this country” - a reference to
hesitation to stay in the UK and a need for greater worker training and development.
Jeremy Corbyn went on the offensive against the PM and the deal, criticising the lack of transparency
in the process and stating that Labour would vote down the deal in Parliament and, should it lose,
push for another General Election. Mr Corbyn told the conference: “It could not be clearer, business as
usual isn't working. And when the rules of the game aren't working for the overwhelming majority, the
rules of the game need to change”. The CBI responded to the Labour leader's comments, saying "the
Labour approach sounds more command and control" but agreeing that they shared the desire to
tackle inequality for workers.
Thursday 15th November 2018
Dominic Raab, the
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has resigned from
his position after five months in the position. In a statement, Mr Raab said "I cannot in
good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU."
Four more ministers have also resigned today; Shailesh Vara
(Minister of State at the
Northern Ireland Office), Esther McVey (Work and Pensions Secretary), Anne Marie
Trevelyan (PPS to the Education Ministers) and Suella Braverman (Department for Exiting
the European Union).
Penny Mordaunt (Secretary of State for International Development) is expected to be the
next big name resignation from the government. In response, the Pound and the FTSE 100
& 250 markets are all down, with the price of gold rising to £948 per ounce from a low £923
yesterday - investment demand suggesting a lack of faith in the Pound, Euro, or European
Tuesday 13th November 2018
It is being reported that the UK government will hold a special cabinet session tomorrow
to discuss the Brexit deal, specifically focussing on the Irish border dilemma. Reports
from The Sun newspaper and other ministers suggest that the Prime Minister Theresa
May has called for 1 to 1 meetings with all of her cabinet members this evening, ahead
of a full cabinet meeting Wednesday.
The BBC is also reporting that the EU27 states will also have a meeting on Wednesday,
perhaps replicating the UK talks, with ambassadors to congregate for the discussion.
In response to the news, Bloomberg has reported a surge in backing for the Pound to
a six-month high against the Euro, with further suggestion from Ireland's RTE News
that the text for a deal - including a backstop agreement - has finally been reached,
only hours since the UK and EU claimed they had failed in their overnight talks in Brussels.
Jo Johnson, MP for Orpington, has resigned from his cabinet positions as Minister for
Transport and Minister for London. Mr Johnson - brother of former Foreign Secretary
Boris Johnson - published a lengthy post on the website 'Medium' in which he said he
had to quit as a matter of principle over the direction of the UK's Brexit deal.
In the online statement Johnson said: "
It has become increasingly clear to me that
the Withdrawal Agreement, which is being finalised in Brussels and Whitehall even
as I write, will be a terrible mistake."
He later added "
What is now being proposed won’t be anything like what was promised
two years ago."
In response to Jo Johnson's resignation the value of Sterling fell 0.7% by the end of the
Wednesday 8th November 2018
The votes are in (mostly) and the outcome was as expected (again, mostly). The US Senate
saw the Republicans gain three seats, with most Republican seats not up for re-election at
present, while the US House of Representatives saw a large swing from Republican to
Democrat as the so-called 'blue wave' ushered in 27 new members to the house.
The election was a night of firsts, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (pictured right)
and Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, both 29, becoming the youngest congresswomen in history.
Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) became the first Muslim women to
be elected to the House, while Sharice Davids (Kansas) and Deb Haaland (New Mexico)
became the first two Native American women elected to the House and Democrat Jared
Polis (Colorado) became the first openly gay US governor.
The outcome means less legislative power for President Trump, but equally ensures a
stalemate to avoid undoing any of his previously enacted economic policies. The result
was a strong response from investors backing both the US Dollar and the US stock
markets - gains that would later hit the Pound and Euro.
Today is the day that America goes to the ballot boxes in the Mid-term elections, with the
public going to vote for Congress - the US equivalent of Parliament. Whereas the UK has
the House of Lords (unelected) and the House of Commons (elected MPs), the US had the
Senate and the House of Representatives (both elected). The votes cast today will be for
both tiers of Congress, with 35 senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives,
and a further 36 state governors.
Voting begins at 1pm GMT on the east coast, ending at midnight. The latest voting deadline
is Alaska, at 6am GMT Wednesday morning. The first results, from the east coast, are expected
to be revealed around 8am GMT, with more results coming throughout the day tomorrow.
The US Mid-Terms will be a big test for Donald Trump. He's no stranger to controversy and has
survived more allegations and scandals than arguably any other president. His poll ratings,
however, are very low. A swing in the House of Representatives to the Democrats could be a
sign of things to come in the second half of Trump's presidency, and the House would be able
to influence and hinder legislation to temper a lot of the current administration's goals.
In Brexit terms, the current Republican leadership are very nationalist, favouring the old USA
approach of being isolated and self-sufficient; America doesn't need anyone but itself and
will operate only to serve self interest. This roughly mirrors the UK's approach to leaving the
European Union but a Democrat administration would be a lot more in favour of European
cooperation; maintaining the special relationship with the UK but equally wanting to stay
close to Europe, especially considering many states are also in NATO.
Monday 6th November 2018
In a rather unsurprising statement, the Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit told The
Guardian newspaper that UK companies – especially those in the services sector – are
suffering because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Chris Williamson said:
“The disappointing service sector numbers bring mounting evidence
that Brexit worries are taking an increasing toll on the economy.
“Combined with the manufacturing and construction surveys, the October services PMI
points to the economy growing at a quarterly rate of just 0.2%, setting the scene for GDP
growth to weaken sharply in the fourth quarter.”
Last week data came out showing that UK manufacturing was at a 27-month low as well,
and all the indicators point towards continued economic stagnation until the UK government
and the EU can reach an agreement for Brexit.
Chancellor Philip Hammond took to Parliament at 3:30pm this afternoon to announce the
latest UK Budget, with minimal changes in the run-up to Brexit.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer promised that austerity was coming to an end, whilst
offering nearly £2 billion additional funds to the Ministry of Defence and announcing that
the UK Government was holding £15 billion in reserve as Brexit relief funds, ready for the
One criticism of the Budget was that the UK economy's growth forecasts were based on
the forecasts of the Office for Budget Responsibility, but the OBR has said that its forecasts
are not taking into account a no-deal scenario, suggesting that if a deal cannot be made
then all of the budget promises and predictions may need to be re-done. Mr Hammond did
state during his speech in the Commons that it may be necessary to have a full Spring
Budget to adequately handle the Brexit outcome.
The Irish Presidential Election results were announced on Friday, with Michael D Higgins
re-elected for a second seven-year term with 56% of the vote.
The election was the first time that an incumbent president had been challenged in the
past 50 years. Such was the unusual nature of the decision that the turnout - 1,473,900
- was far lower than the eligible level of over 3.2 million Irish citizens.
Candidates ordered by votes:
- Michael D Higgins (Independent) 822,566
- Peter Casey (Independent) 342,727
- Seán Gallagher (Independent) 94,514
- Liadh Ní Riada ( Sinn Féin) 93,987
- Joan Freeman (Independent) 87,908
- Gavin Duffy (Independent) 32,198
Saturday 20th October 2018
A 'People's March' took place in London today, with several hundred thousand protestors
taking to the streets around Westminster to demonstrate their wish for a second Brexit
referendum. London Mayor Sadiq Khan was in attendance, as were other MPs including
Labour's Chuka Umunna and Conservative MP Anna Soubry.
A large list of celebrities also appeared to lend their support to the protest, including Sir
Patrick Stewart, Delia Smith, Richard Bacon, Deborah Meaden, Bob Geldof, Eddie Izzard
Many of those in attendance believe that the UK was misled during the 2016 referendum
by the Leave campaign, with claims such as £350m per week to come back to the NHS
deemed a falsehood. Others, including Dragon's Den star Deborah Meaden, cited the reports
that the Leave campaign had broken campaign spending regulations on the way to the
Leave vote's victory.
Prime Minister Theresa May met in Brussels for the planned summit with fellow European
leaders, as well as EU President Donald Tusk and Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator for
Brexit on the EU's side.
Discussions at the summit were unsuccessful, with the Northern Ireland situation at the
heart of the disagreements; the 27 EU members are insisting that there be a backstop
agreement which means Northern Ireland has a partial Brexit, to avoid a hard border with
either the Republic of Ireland or with the mainland UK. Theresa May, Dominic Raab, and
the rest of the negotiating team are opposed to this, citing the fact that Northern Ireland
is part of the UK and what applies to one should apply to all.
The next Brexit summit, set to be the final one, was scheduled for November but has since
been cancelled. The belief is that the removal of a time deadline will ease the tensions
between the UK and EU and that a meeting can be arranged once a preliminary agreement
Monday 15th October 2018
Brexit minister Dominic Raab made an impromptu trip to Brussels yesterday for talks with EU
negotiators ahead of the upcoming round of talks between the PM and EU leaders.
Mr Raab's trip was seen as a promising sign, but the reports from the meeting suggest yet
more stalemate between the two parties, with the EU seeking more reassurances that Brexit
won't result in a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The German media is reporting that Theresa May has secretly agreed to a backstop deal with
the EU, despite publicly saying a backstop must apply to the whole UK. The backstop would
temporarily treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK for trade purposes.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservatives leader, has sent a letter to the Prime Minister
threatening to resign if such a deal is implemented, while former Foreign Secretary Boris
Johnson wrote in The Telegraph about the EU " treating us with naked contempt" and the DUP
told The Observer that a no-deal Brexit was the probable outcome for the UK now.
Thursday 11th October 2018
Senior cabinet ministers are due to meet with the Prime Minister for a special Brexit session at
5pm UK time. The meeting, called by Theresa May, is preparation for the EU summit next week
- the penultimate session to negotiate Brexit with Europe's leaders.
Tuesday 9th October 2018
The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe, has said that the United Kingdom would be welcomed
"with open arms" into the Pacific free trade pact. Speaking to the Financial Times, Prime Minister
Abe acknowledge that Britain would no longer be a gateway into Europe following Brexit, but was
still "equipped with global strength".
A post-Brexit deal with Japan is promising, given the fact that over 1,000 Japanese companies
operate in Britain employing approximately 140,000 people, but the Transatlantic Trade Partnership
(TTP) isn't without its own problems. President Trump already ruled the USA out of such a deal,
calling it a bad deal.
In the UK, the Labour Party also opposes the proposal, with leader Jeremy Corbyn saying at an
event back in 2016 (when TTP was first proposed): "Many people are concerned, rightly, that it
could open up public services to further privatisation – and make privatisation effectively irreversible.
"Others are concerned about any potential watering down of consumer rights, food safety standards,
rights at work or environmental protections and the facility for corporations to sue national
governments if regulations impinged on their profits. I share those concerns."
Monday 8th October 2018
The Industrial Strategy Council, an organisation designed to investigate the UK's low productivity
rates, has appointed the Bank of England's Chief Economist to be its chair. Andy Haldane will lead
the monitoring group, reporting back on infrastructure, innovation, and the state of the workplace.
The council was announced a year ago by business secretary Greg Clark, with Liberal Democrat
leader Sir Vince Cable criticising the delay in finding a chairperson and claiming “Brexit has sucked
the energy out of Whitehall”.
Accountancy group Deloitte has published a new study today which reports that British businesses
are now the most anxious or concerned about Brexit since the announcement of the referendum result.
Their survey of 95 CFOs reported that only 13% were more optimistic about business prospects than they
were three months ago – an 11% drop from their July report. The report echoes the concerns of the British
Chambers of Commerce from last month, which warned of growth slowing to the point of recession.
79% of the surveyed CFOs said they expect the business environment to be worse in the long-term – a 4%
rise from July, with half of the group saying they will slow down their hiring rates as they remain cautious.
Halifax is reporting that UK house prices and buying have both dropped in the past month, also citing
Brexit concerns as the reason that prospective buyers are holding off committing to such serious
The number of homes for sale was a decade low, while the average house price dropped by 1.4% from
August to September. Many regions did report house price rises, but availability of properties was still
down and it's believed that this is what drove those increases.
Friday 5th October 2018
Ireland's Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, believes that there's a
" the UK could reach a
Brexit agreement at the EU summit in November. Speaking to reporters today, Mr Varadkar said he
was "very keen " for a resolution, citing talks with the European Council President, Donald Tusk, last
night and hinting that both the UK and EU were willing to make concessions to avoid a hard border.
Ministers from the pro-Remain parties in Northern Ireland met with Michel Barnier and the EU's Brexit
co-coordinator Guy Verhofstadt this morning to discuss their fears about Brexit and the implications
of a hard border. Representatives of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Alliance Party and the Green Party met in
Brussels, with Sinn Féin and the SDLP insisting that Stormont (aka the Northern Irish assembly) did not
have a say over the last-resort backstop that is being debated by the UK and EU. Their opinion is that,
due to the lack of instituted government in Northern Ireland, that Stormont is effectively the DUP at the
moment, which gives them the power to veto a final Brexit resolution.
The DUP spoke out today on the matter of the Irish border, saying that a hybrid backstop, with light
regulation of goods travelling between the EU and the UK, would not be acceptable.
Adam Price, the new leader of Plaid Cymru, is leading calls for Welsh independence in the event of a
hard Brexit. Mr Price wants a second referendum to “avert disaster” but said that a hard Irish border
and no access to the EU single market would raise the demand for Scottish independence and Irish
unity, leaving Wales “at the mercy of Westminster”.
Thursday 4th October 2018
The CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Ross McEwan, has said today that a no-deal Brexit could be the
trigger for recession, and pointed to the strong caution in the construction industry as an indicator of
the reduced levels of investment that might be to come if a deal isn't reached.
Speaking to the BBC, McEwan said:
"We are assuming 1-1.5% growth for next year, but if we get a bad
Brexit then that could be zero or negative, and that would affect our profitability and our share price.
"Big businesses are pausing; they are saying that in six months time I’ll have another look at the UK and
I might come back, but if it’s really bad I’ll invest elsewhere – that’s the reality of where we are today."
Gold is currently at £925.33 per ounce, with the strong US Dollar and US stock markets still pressing down
on the gold price, but the Brexit concerns are keeping prices £20 per ounce higher than those a week ago.
The Conservative Party conference ended today, with Prime Minister Theresa May's speech concluding
the event. The PM said there would be no possibility of another Brexit referendum, suggesting it would
be a case of "a politicians' vote, with politicians simply telling people they got it wrong".
Many people, including Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, pointed out that the speech made no mention of
the Chequers Proposal - the same proposal rejected recently at a summit in Austria - which might suggest
the UK Government is willing to soften its stance on the Irish border regulations and reach a compromise.
Tuesday 2nd October 2018
The price of gold surged on Tuesday to a high of £931 per ounce; a 2% rise in value and a gain of £18.60
per ounce. Fears of an Italian debt crisis were the main driving factor for gold demand, but gold's price was
boosted by the concerns of wary investors. Nerves are beginning to show with only weeks left for the UK to
present an acceptable deal to the European Parliament.
A warning from Northern Ireland's DUP to the Conservatives was behind a lot of these nerves, with Arlene
Foster, the leader of the DUP, calling it "totally irresponsible" if the UK government allows a hard border to be
implemented in the event of no Brexit deal being reached next month.