Meeting of EU leaders on Brexit kicks off
The FT’s Mehreen Khan reports:
EU27 ambassadors have just begun a meeting in Brussels this morning where they are set to sign off on a Brexit extension to January 31. As the FT reported last night, France looks to have relented to its opposition to three-month prolongation of the Article 50 negotiations after a phone call between Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson over the week.
EU officials expect the extension will be approved in a closed-doors meeting and completed by a “written procedure”.
‘Toxic’ tweets aimed at MPs soar after Johnson outburst
In case you missed it, the FT published the following analysis at the weekend:
The level of vitriol targeted at MPs in messages posted on social media site Twitter rose sharply during and after a heated parliamentary debate in which Boris Johnson was accused of using “inflammatory” language the day after his historic Supreme Court defeat.
According to an analysis by the Financial Times of more than 2m tweets surrounding the debate, during which the British prime minister described death threats against politicians as “humbug”, there was a direct correlation between the language used in parliament and the volume of “toxic” tweets from both sides of the Brexit divide.
The most abusive were those that mentioned the Brexit party or other hard Brexit-related terms in their user description. The FT’s research backs up the warning on Sunday by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, that Mr Johnson’s “inflammatory language” risks “pouring petrol” on Britain’s Brexit divisions.
Sterling gains ground ahead of big day for Brexit
The pound edged upwards early on Monday morning as traders braced themselves for a further Brexit extension being granted by the EU.
Sterling was up 0.3 per cent against the dollar at $1.2854 and added 0.1 per cent against the euro to €1.1584 .
The UK currency has been boosted this month as fears of a no-deal Brexit have evaporated, rising 4.6 per cent against the dollar and putting it on track for its best month since January 2018.
“The effective elimination of the tail risk associated with a no-deal Brexit has lifted sterling and other European currencies, although the upside seems more limited in the near term, in our view,” said analysts at Barclays.
“The uncertainty associated with an (eventual) General Election is likely to weigh on the pound though it appears likely that the PM has the necessary momentum to pass the withdrawal agreement bill, even if the EU grants an A50-extension.”
Underlining the receding fears of the UK crashing out, speculators in the futures market reduced their bets that the pound will fall by $1.6bn to $4.2bn in the week to last Tuesday, according to Goldman Sachs calculations based on CFTC data. The futures market represents a small sliver over the vast foreign exchange market – but investors see it as a useful proxy of sentiment.
“Overall, the flows were consistent with the reduction in risk of a no deal Brexit outcome, given that net flows into euro and sterling were both large and positive, while net flows into yen were negative,” noted analysts at Goldman Sachs.
What’s coming up? Today’s docket
Here’s a look at the House of Commons order paper for today. The key item is Boris Johnson’s move to trigger elections on December 12. Debate is expected to begin at 3.30pm London time, meaning a vote could be as early as 5pm. Notably, though, urgent questions could push this timetable back.
Good morning: get ready for a busy day
Hello and welcome back to the FT’s Brexit live blog. There’s lots of news expected today on both sides of the Channel.
In Brussels, EU leaders are expected to agree a flexible extension to the UK’s Brexit date from October 31 to the end of January. The breakthrough comes as France has dropped its objection to such a lengthy delay after President Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, spoke by phone at the weekend.
French officials predicted there would “very probably” be an agreement on Monday, the FT’s Brussels team reported on Sunday.
On the UK front, MPs will debate Boris Johnson’s motion to trigger an election on December 12 beginning at 3.30pm London time. Debate is scheduled for 90 minutes, meaning a vote could take place as soon as 5pm.
Mr Johnson is using the 2011 Fixed-Term Parliaments Act in his bid to call elections. That piece of legislation will require him to garner support from two-thirds of the House of Commons, or 434 MPs, meaning Labour will have to get on-board. Currently, that looks unlikely, although it could be subject to change if Brussels agrees to a ‘flextension’ on the Brexit date.
A one-page bill drawn up by the Liberal Democrats, seeking an election on December 9, appears more likely to succeed. This would only require a simple majority and it appears Mr Johnson could back that measure.
Stick around here for all the updates.