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.
29th March 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.
Thursday 14th February 2019
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.
Thursday 7th February 2019
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's 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.