Brexit Bulletin: Uneasy Calm

(Bloomberg) -- Today in Brexit: Quiet reigns in Westminster, but the U.K. prime minister should gear up for what lies ahead.

The U.K. prime minister is off to Wales for a walking holiday. The last time Theresa May went away like this, she called a snap election on her return. This time, she should be rethinking how to position the U.K. to tackle future Brexit trade negotiations.

Future Brexit talks will be far more complicated than the ones to date, according to a report from the Institute for Government think tank.

When they begin, whoever is prime minister should take a different approach, the report said. It identified areas where May went wrong: fostering a secretive atmosphere that created divisions within government; an untenable split between the Brexit department and No. 10; and a “tone deaf” approach toward EU member states.

The think tank called on the government to publish a vision for the relationship between a separate U.K. and EU, with a “clear view of what is negotiable” in reality.

The Brexit extension has given the U.K. until Oct. 31 to resolve the parliamentary deadlock, but some fear it’s just long enough to take the pressure off, while not long enough to enact any meaningful change in strategy. Germany’s foreign minister said in an interview that Britain will have to decide what it wants by October, suggesting the country won’t be willing to grant another extension.

Talks between the Conservatives and the opposition Labour party aimed at finding a compromise solution continue, but veteran politician William Hague reckons the Labour party isn’t participating to secure a Brexit deal but rather to bring down the Conservative government. Both of the biggest parties are braced for the local elections next month, with the potential for a divided electorate to embrace smaller parties. 

The Prime Minister should enjoy the calm while it lasts.

Today’s Must-Reads

  • Investors scouting for the best way to trade the Brexit delay should just look to Ireland’s bonds. Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan are among banks bullish on the nation’s debt.
  • Brexit chaos won’t last forever, promises Rachel Sylvester in the Times.
  • Away from Brexit, France was left in shock after a massive fire ravaged the 850-year-old Gothic monument of Notre Dame. French president Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral.
Brexit Bulletin: Uneasy Calm

Brexit in Brief

Corbyn Risk | A Jeremy Corbyn-led government would be just as damaging to British banks’ profits as a no-deal Brexit, according to Citigroup Inc. Citi analysts point to a fall in business investment, housing controls, less cost flexibility and higher taxes as the potential results.

Productivity Puzzle | The U.K.’s dismal productivity is set to worsen this year, according to an American research group. Output per hour will probably rise just 0.2 percent in 2019, said the report by the Conference Board.

Stuck in Place | The pound’s trading range has been squeezed as analysts predict policy paralysis from the Bank of England and no resolution on Brexit. The difference between the highest and lowest level on Bloomberg’s pound index closed Monday with the narrowest gap since the Brexit referendum. 

Constructive Talks | Speaking from Japan, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4 that the talks between the U.K. government and the opposition are “more detailed and more constructive than people have been expecting on both sides.” Still, he cautioned that the ruling Conservative party may have to turn back to its Northern Irish allies the Democratic Unionist Party to get a deal done.

Jumping Ship | At least two UKIP MEPs have quit the party to join former party leader and prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party. West Midlands MEP Jill Seymour and Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire MEP Jane Collins announced their resignations on Monday.

Death Notice | An unusual message was found among the obituaries in the Times on Monday. A death notice said democracy “died quietly in her sleep” at 11 p.m. on March 29, the time that the U.K. was originally supposed to leave the EU. “The cause of death was by foul play and the culprits have yet to be brought to justice,” it said. 

Want to keep up with Brexit?

You can follow us @Brexit on Twitter and join our Facebook group, Brexit Decoded

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.