Brexit Bulletin: No More Backing Down
Days to Brexit deadline: 77
Today in Brexit: Nigel Farage vows to “stand up and fight” Labour in every seat they hold.
What’s happening? He’s not backing down. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage insists his candidates will contest every Labour-held seat at the upcoming general election on Dec. 12, despite calls to clear the path for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to win a majority and deliver Brexit.
It meant another jumpy day for the pound, which rose ahead of Farage’s appearance in Hull on Thursday before giving up those gains once he indicated that he’s not going away.
There had been speculation that the Brexit Party would stand down from closely fought seats where the Conservatives want to unseat Labour incumbents, for fear of splitting the pro-Brexit vote. No way, said Nigel. “We’re going to stand up and fight Labour in every seat in this country, be in no doubt,” he said.
The Labour party later made a splash with a pledge to deliver free full-fiber broadband for all nationwide within 10 years, thanks to a £20 billion ($26 billion) nationalization of BT Group Plc’s Openreach unit. Labour will announce the policy on Friday. BT was said to be caught off guard after earlier promises it wasn’t on the list for nationalization.
Worried BT shareholders may be relieved to hear the assessment of the U.K.’s unofficial national polling guru, Sir John Curtice, who briefed reporters yesterday on how to interpret current opinion polls. Curtice was blunt about Labour’s prospects. “The chances of Labour winning a majority are as close to zero as it is possible to be,” he said.
With a 10-point lead the Tories ought to win an overall majority, said Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University — “But that’s not a prediction,” he added. National polls won’t necessarily tell the whole story. “Because the Brexit Party are standing down in Conservative-held seats it could simply be a case of the Tories piling up more votes in the seats they are going to win anyway.”
Nevertheless, Corbyn probably won’t need a majority of his own to open a path to Downing Street — with Johnson’s Tories isolated at Westminster over Brexit, Corbyn just needs to deny the prime minister outright victory.
A message from our editors: Starting next week we’re going to send the Brexit Bulletin out later in the day. We’ll stay focused on Brexit but we also want to keep you up-to-date on the U.K. general election race as it unfolds each day. Watch your inboxes at 5 p.m. London time. And please let us know if you have any feedback. Thanks for reading.
- The City of London is largely discounting an outright Labour victory and expects Corbyn, at most, to lead a coalition that would force him to moderate his policies, according to Bloomberg’s Tom Metcalf, Nishant Kumar and Benjamin Robertson.
- Uncertainty over U.K. citizens’ future status is prompting some EU firms to steer clear of hiring Brits, according to the Guardian.
- Almost everything about the upcoming election is unusual and unpredictable. Bloomberg’s Greg Ritchie, Hayley Warren, Jeremy Scott Diamond and Kitty Donaldson have an essential guide to the Brexit battlegrounds that will matter most on Dec. 12.
Brexit in Brief
High Street Spending | Boris Johnson made a pitch for votes in “overlooked” towns with a promise to revive high streets through tax breaks for local businesses and to reopen provincial railway lines. The policy aims to win over disaffected Labour voters in order to secure the parliamentary majority he craves.
Play By The Rules | Incoming European Union trade commissioner Phil Hogan said an agreement on regulations and standards will be central to EU-U.K. talks on a free trade deal, and that the bloc is “ready to go” on negotiations once the withdrawal agreement is ratified. “I think the British public will demand and expect that their government will sign on to EU standards, because we have the highest standards in the world,” Hogan said in an RTE radio interview.
Which Way Next? | A gauge of sterling volatility over the next month, which now covers trading on the day after the election, has climbed the most since the 2016 Brexit referendum. That implies the pound could either rally to about $1.32 or slide to $1.25, according to pricing in options markets.
Holiday Bleus | British tourists have cut back on summer holidays in France, reducing nights spent in the country’s hotels in July, August and September to the lowest in at least 10 years, according to French statistics office Insee. U.K. visitors are the biggest group of foreign hotel guests in France and spent 3.26 million nights in the third quarter, down 13% from a year earlier.
Time to Borrow | U.K. bond markets remain sanguine about Labour’s plans to borrow to invest, suggesting investors are not worried yet about the party’s proposals, according to the Financial Times. Though many think the plans are not a good idea, the bond market is offering a “once in a generation opportunity for fiscal expansion’’ thanks to low yields.
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