Former UK minister calls for second vote on Brexit to end stalemate

Former British minister, Justine Greening, (REUTERS)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Former UK minister calls for second vote on Brexit to end stalemate

  • The amendments seek to limit the government's ability to set up the customs arrangements May has advocated, which would keep close ties to Europe
  • May has ruled out a rerun of the 2016 vote in which Britons voted 52-48 percent to leave the bloc

LONDON: A former senior British minister called on Monday for a second referendum to solve a parliamentary stalemate on Brexit, saying Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals for new ties with the European Union were a fudge that satisfied no one.
Justine Greening, an ex-Education Secretary who quit the government in January, said May’s negotiating strategy would neither please those who wanted a clean break with the EU nor those who opposed Brexit altogether.
“We’ll be dragging Remain voters out of the EU for a deal that means still complying with many EU rules, but now with no say on shaping them,” Greening wrote in the Times newspaper.
“It’s not what they want, and on top of that when they hear that Leave voters are unhappy, they ask, ‘What’s the point?’. For Leavers, this deal simply does not deliver the proper break from the European Union that they wanted.”
May has ruled out a rerun of the 2016 vote in which Britons voted 52-48 percent to leave the bloc.
Her Brexit negotiating strategy, which aims for a close relationship with the EU after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019, was only agreed with her cabinet earlier this month after two years of wrangling. Two senior ministers resigned in protest shortly afterwards.
May is now facing a possible rebellion from Brexit supporters in her Conservative Party who want her to ditch her plan when lawmakers vote on amendments to legislation on the government’s post-Brexit customs regime on Monday.
However, she has told unhappy lawmakers that they needed to back her or risk there being no Brexit at all.
Greening said that with divisions in the Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party over how to proceed with Brexit, there should be another vote, with the public able to choose between May’s plans, a “no-deal” break with the EU or remaining in the bloc.
“The only solution is to take the final Brexit decision out of the hands of deadlocked politicians, away from the backroom deals, and give it back to the people,” she said.


UK firms step up preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit as PM Theresa May meets with EU leaders

Updated 21 March 2019
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UK firms step up preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit as PM Theresa May meets with EU leaders

  • May is meeting EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday in attempt to get support for Brexit delay
  • The Bank of England warned in November that the British economy could shrink by a massive 8 percent

LONDON: UK companies have ratcheted up their preparations for a disorderly “no-deal” Brexit as best they can over the past couple of months, the Bank of England said on Thursday.
With the prospect of a chaotic Brexit potentially eight days away, a survey by the central bank’s agents showed that around 80 percent of companies “judged themselves ready” for such a scenario, in which the country crashes out of the European Union with no deal and no transition to new trading arrangements with the bloc. That’s up from around 50 percent in an equivalent survey in January.
For decades, trading with the rest of the EU has been seamless. A disorderly Brexit could see the return of tariffs and other restrictions on trade with the EU, Britain’s main export destination.
To prepare, some firms have moved jobs and operations to the EU to continue to benefit from its seamless trade. Many have had to learn how to file customs declarations and adjust labels on goods. Exporters of animals are learning about health checks they will need to comply with.
According to the bank’s survey, however, many of those companies preparing for a “no-deal” Brexit said “there were limits to the degree of readiness that was feasible in the face of the range of possible outcomes in that scenario.”
There’s only so much companies can do, for example, to prepare for new tariffs and exchange rate movements.

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Britain appears headed for a “no-deal” Brexit on March 29 if Prime Minister Theresa May fails to win parliamentary support for her withdrawal agreement with the EU.
She is meeting EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday in an attempt to get support for a delay to the country’s departure date to June 30. EU leaders have said a short extension would have to be conditional on her Brexit plan getting parliamentary backing and have indicated they would only be willing to back a delay to May 22, the day before elections to the European Parliament. After two heavy rejections in parliament, there are doubts as to whether she will be able to get parliamentary approval. What would happen next is uncertain.
European leaders, including those from France and Luxembourg, have said any extension will be granted dependent on May's deal passing a third parliamentary vote.
The Bank of England warned in November that the British economy could shrink by a massive 8 percent within months, though Governor Mark Carney has indicated the recession will be less savage, partly because of heightened preparedness.
According to the minutes of the latest meeting of the bank’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, at which the main interest rate was kept at 0.75 percent, rate-setters warned “Brexit uncertainties would continue to affect economic activity looking ahead, most notably business investment.”
Brexit uncertainty has dogged the British economy for nearly three years. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.4 percent, its lowest rate since 2012, even during what was then a global upswing. Business investment was down 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter from the year before.
“Business investment had now fallen in each of the past four quarters as uncertainties relating to Brexit had intensified,” the rate-setters said.
The survey showed uncertainty was likely to remain for months, even years, as Britain works out its long-term relationship with the EU. It said around 60 percent of UK firms in February said Brexit was one of their top three uncertainties, compared with 40 percent just after the June 2016 Brexit referendum.
Around 40 percent of firms expect the uncertainty to be resolved only by the end of 2019 and 20 percent anticipate it persisting into 2021 or beyond.