Brexit Bulletin: Where Is Johnson’s Plan?

Brexit is 43 days away.

(Bloomberg) --

Today in Brexit: There’s one question on everyone’s lips, and only Boris Johnson knows the answer. 

What’s Happening? Two days after Luxembourg’s prime minister made a name for himself with a podium show, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and chief European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will take center stage. They may try to tone down a discussion that has gotten a little shrill.  

Brexit Bulletin: Where Is Johnson’s Plan?

Xavier Bettel might lament the “nightmare” of Brexit, but Juncker and Barnier, two of the EU’s most prominent players, are unlikely to display a similar level of disdain when they address the European Parliament in Strasbourg at 9 a.m. CET.  They’ll give MEPs the lowdown on the prospects of the U.K. leaving the EU with an agreement by the Oct. 31 deadline.

To avoid a no-deal scenario—which all sides still insist is their aim—the U.K. needs to produce detailed proposals on the changes Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to see in the existing accord, which Parliament repeatedly refused to accept when Theresa May was prime minister. There’s plenty of chatter about what might be on the cards. Bloomberg’s Dara Doyle examined the potential for an all-Ireland food zone yesterday; ITV’s Robert Peston picks up that theme, saying the success of Johnson’s nascent plan hinges on winning Dublin’s backing. 

Meanwhile, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney yesterday became the latest EU figure to confirm those proposals haven’t been exactly forthcoming. The Guardian reports that U.K. officials have so far only presented a version of the existing deal but with the so-called Irish border backstop merely scrubbed out; HuffPost says Johnson’s team has shown a version of the plan to EU counterparts but won’t hand over a hard copy.

Talks with EU leaders are expected to resume next week around the United Nations General Assembly. With time running out before October’s crucial EU summit, Team Johnson appears to be heading for a late reveal and a high-stakes, last-minute negotiation.

Today’s Must-Reads

  • Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn says he’ll take Brexit back to voters if he wins a general election. “We will give the people the final say on Brexit, with the choice of a credible leave offer and remain,” Corbyn writes in the Guardian.
  • The post-Brexit financial landscape could become even more chaotic, writes Mark Gilbert, should regulators in Paris and London disagree on revisiting the rules governing fund managers’ investments in illiquid securities.
  • Why are you ruining my future by voting for Brexit?” Conservative MP Bim Afolami on being interrogated by an eight-year-old.

Brexit in Brief

Seconds Out, Day Two | The battle over whether Johnson was within his rights to prorogue, or suspend, Parliament will continue in the Supreme Court today. On a tense first day, some of the 11 justices “appeared to be supportive,” of the case against Johnson, according to Robert Hazell, a professor of constitutional law at University College London. “If I were the government, after the first day, I would be feeling a bit more worried.” 

Revoke and Remain | Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson confirmed at the party’s conference on Tuesday that she would go further than Corbyn and cancel Brexit if elected Prime Minister at the next general election. “There is no Brexit that will be good for our country,” Swinson said. “Brexit will put lives at risk.”

Deeper in Debt | A record of number of Britons sought debt advice in the first half of 2019, Bloomberg’s David Goodman reports. A chaotic Brexit wouldn’t help.

Personality Clash | Boris Johnson’s approval rating is getting better (or at least less bad), despite a slew of headlines insisting that he has endured a nightmare a few weeks in office. Figures released by YouGov on Tuesday show how Johnson’s stock has risen since he entered Downing Street, with Corbyn’s net favorability rating down at -49. Johnson is still in negative territory as well.

Brexit Bulletin: Where Is Johnson’s Plan?

Carney to Stay? | The appointment of a new Bank of England chief is likely to be delayed, the Financial Times reports, suggesting that outgoing Governor Mark Carney could be asked to extend his term past Jan. 31 if Brexit is delayed again.

On the Markets | The pound rose on Tuesday as Johnson’s lawyers came under pressure in the courtroom, pushing above $1.25 to reach its highest level since July. It was trading at $1.2492 early on Wednesday.

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