Brexit Bulletin: One Last Gamble

(Bloomberg) -- Today in Brexit: Theresa May will bring her deal back to Parliament for a fourth time. But Labour isn’t playing ball.

What’s Happening?

Theresa May will finally bring her Brexit deal back to Parliament at the start of next month, plunging Westminster back into a familiar pattern of doubt and speculation.

In the week beginning June 3, while U.S. President Donald Trump is in the U.K. on his state visit, May will put the Withdrawal Agreement Bill before Parliament with the aim of writing her deal into law. This could be May’s last chance —if the bill is defeated again, she can’t bring it back again without ending this parliamentary session and starting a new one. In reality, defeat would also almost certainly mean a new prime minister.

As ever, the key question is how May’s deal, already rejected three times, can command a majority of lawmakers. One avenue to a possible victory already appears to be closing. The legislation is coming back despite no sign of an agreement with the Labour opposition, following seven weeks of talks that have infuriated May’s own party. During an hour-long meeting yesterday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told May that his party wouldn’t back the bill without a formal agreement, Robert Hutton and Tim Ross report.

May is gambling that members of Parliament, stung by voter revolts in local elections earlier this month and an expected repeat in next week’s European elections, will turn towards her deal. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt hinted at that tactic earlier Tuesday, telling the Wall Street Journal CEO summit that he hopes a bad result for the Conservative Party in the upcoming elections will send a “message to my colleagues at Westminster.”

In the meantime, few outside of the cabinet are optimistic about the outlook. As Bloomberg’s Charlotte Ryan and Anooja Debnath report, fund managers and strategists are opting to sell the pound, and avoid U.K. debt, until there is real progress in Brexit.

Today’s Must-Reads

  • London’s luxury home sellers are dealing with the longest price slump in decades, Bloomberg’s Emma Haslett and Jack Sidders report
  • May pleaded for more time at a meeting of senior ministers Tuesday, telling her Cabinet she can get a Brexit deal done if she is allowed to stay until the end of July, the Telegraph says
  • The U.K. is falling behind the EU in using robots as companies opt to hire humans or rely on older machines, Bloomberg’s Lucy Meakin and Jessica Shankleman report.

Brexit in Brief

Farage Warning | The Telegraph spent a day on the campaign trail with the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage, who warns that he is leading a “fightback” against the current state of Brexit. In the same paper, Philip Johnston writes that Farage is May’s worst nightmare. Nevertheless, YouGov says Britons are pessimistic about the future prospects of both the Brexit Party and pro-Remain rival Change UK. 

Support Needed | British Steel said Tuesday it’s in discussions with the government for extra funding to solve a cash crunch caused by Brexit. The firm needs support after the EU suspended the allocation of free permits to U.K. companies.

Robbins’ Return | Olly Robbins, May’s chief Brexit negotiator, will meet EU Commission officials today, according to an EU spokesman. He is in Brussels to discuss possible changes to the part of the Brexit deal that the EU has said can be redrafted — the so-called political declaration on future ties.

Change of Tune | Land Securities Group, one of the biggest bears in London’s office market, is getting back in the game as its competitors wait for the political chaos of Brexit to subside.

Jobs Boost | The U.K.’s labor market gathered strength in the first quarter, as wages rose and the jobless rate hit a 44-year low. In a reversal of recent trends, the number of EU nationals working in the U.K. rose by 98,000 to a record-high of 2.38 million.

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