Saturday, 23 March, 2019

British Parliament votes against May's Brexit plan

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Stephen Barclay Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Stephen Barclay"I'm proud we stopped attempt to frustrate Brexit
Jeannette Daniel | 14 March, 2019, 11:58

GBP price, Brexit latest and market sentiment: The UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has said the legal risk remains unchanged that the UK would have no internationally lawful means of exiting the Irish backstop in the event of Brexit.

The first is a "joint legally binding instrument" on the withdrawal agreement, which the United Kingdom could use to start a "formal dispute" against the European Union if it tried to keep the United Kingdom tied into the backstop indefinitely. As a result, GBP has dropped and risk appetite more generally has tumbled.

However, the government's legal representative, the Attorney General, said today said that the deal leaves "the legal risk unchanged".

The main sticking point is the so-called Irish border backstop, an insurance policy aimed at avoiding controls on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland after Brexit. May's minority government and together with the group of rebel Tories, they represent more than enough MPs to kill the deal. If you missed it, here's a recording.

One eurosceptic lawmaker told Reuters he had seen nothing to change his opposition to the deal so far but that lawmakers were awaiting a legal analysis.

However, he said the situation was unchanged if a deal that supersedes the backstop can not be reached "through no such demonstrable failure of either party".

A favourable vote would clear the way for Britain to leave the European Union on March 29 - almost three years after Britain backed withdrawal from the bloc in a referendum.

If MPs vote against extending Article 50, then what happens next is unclear.

The Prime Minister also needs her confidence-and-supply partners the DUP to back her deal - and again, this will come down to the backstop.

More news: India vs Australia - Highlights & Stats

In January the British Parliament rejected May's deal by 230 votes, the biggest defeat for a government in modern British history.

Mr Cox looked at the changes that Mrs May had agreed, but concluded that the legal risk had not changed.

GBP investors, meanwhile, will be looking ahead to tomorrow's important Spring Statement tomorrow, although this will likely be dictated by the tone struck by today's Brexit vote.

Brussels is wary - one senior official closely involved in the negotiations put her chances of winning over enough euro-sceptic British MPs at only 30 percent - but insists the European Union will compromise no further.

As president of the European Commission, the EU executive body, Juncker does not necessarily speak for the member state governments who have the final say on the terms of Britain's exit.

Supporters of Brexit say that while the divorce might bring some short-term instability, in the longer term it will allow the United Kingdom to thrive and also enable deeper European Union integration without such a powerful reluctant member.

But Tuesday's vote also meant that an array of possibilities open up including a second referendum or general elections - keeping general market volatility levels on the pound high.

In a last-minute dash to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Monday night, May emerged alongside European Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker to declare that the United Kingdom and EU have agreed "legally binding" changes to the controversial Irish backstop clause to ensure any such arrangement would not be permanent.

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