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BREXIT LIVE: confusion reigns as politicians on all sides weigh up narrowing options

By Francis Jay
October 23, 2019, 4:21 PM GMT
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    Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn fail to agree a new timetable for Brexit bill, increasing chances of a snap election

    Brexit confusion reigns as politicians on all sides weigh up narrowing options

    Both UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn are weighing their options after a meeting between the two failed to agree a new Brexit bill timetable.

    The meeting was arranged after a vote in the House of Commons saw MPs scupper the Government’s chances of fast-tracking the bill through parliament by the end of the month.

    The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted that the UK would leave the European Union (EU) on October 31, but the meeting with Corbyn suggested he may have been open to a short technical delay to allow a more thorough scrutiny of his bill. The two sides’ failure to reach agreement over the timing of that scrutiny now appears to make the prospect of a general election ever more likely.

    However, even that path is strewn with obstacles. UK law means that Johnson would most likely need the support of the Labour party to call a general election. It requires 67 per cent of MPs to vote for the dissolution of parliament in the House of Commons. Labour has said it will support dissolution only if the Government has obtained "an extension that removes the threat of No Deal during an election campaign".

    With the Brexit bill now in limbo, once again all eyes turn to Brussels. After the vote last night, European Council president Donald Tusk said he would recommend that EU leaders accept the UK’s request for a new deadline of January 31, 2020, with the option of an earlier Brexit if Johnson’s deal is ratified before that date.

    The Prime Minister is thought to be waiting on Europe’s decision before making his next move.

    The continuing Brexit impasse did not have a marked effect on trading, with the FTSE 100 climbing 48.25, or 0.67%, to close the day at 7,260.74. The FTSE 250 finished down 0.97 per cent on 20,180.94.

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