No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

The business community and many lawmakers fear dire economic consequences from a no-deal Brexit, which would lead to immediate trade tariffs for some sectors including the automotive industry.
Johnson and Hunt are taking part in a final question-and-answer session later on Wednesday before the result of the vote by Conservative Party members is announced next Tuesday.(REUTERS)
Johnson and Hunt are taking part in a final question-and-answer session later on Wednesday before the result of the vote by Conservative Party members is announced next Tuesday.(REUTERS)
Updated on Jul 17, 2019 10:11 PM IST
Copy Link
London | ByAgence France-Presse

The battle to become Britain’s next prime minister enters the home straight on Wednesday with both candidates hardening their positions on Brexit, putting the future government on a collision course with Brussels.

Ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are now both referring to Britain’s departure with no overall deal in place as a realistic prospect.

The business community and many lawmakers fear dire economic consequences from a no-deal Brexit, which would lead to immediate trade tariffs for some sectors including the automotive industry.

Johnson and Hunt are taking part in a final question-and-answer session later on Wednesday before the result of the vote by Conservative Party members is announced next Tuesday.

The new party leader will be confirmed as prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II on the following day.

Britain has twice delayed its scheduled departure from the European Union after 46 years of membership as May tried and failed to get her deal with Brussels through parliament.

The two candidates vying to replace her have vowed to scrap a “backstop” provision in the agreement that Brussels insisted upon to keep the Irish border open.

Their latest attacks on the measure during a debate on Monday prompted a plunge in the value of the British pound.

The currency fell again Wednesday to its lowest level against the US dollar in over two years.

“The tougher stance from both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in terms of their rhetoric on Brexit is clearly weighing on the pound,” said market analyst Neil Wilson.

“Make no mistake, this decline in the pound is down to traders pricing in a higher chance of a no-deal exit.”

- May urges compromise -

The backstop has proved a key stumbling block in the Brexit process.

The measure would keep open the post-Brexit border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member the Republic of Ireland whatever the outcome of negotiations over the future relationship between London and Brussels.

Johnson announced early in his campaign that he would not sign up to it and would pursue a no-deal Brexit if required, leading his opponent to follow suit.

However, European leaders have been adamant that the backstop must remain a part of any divorce deal, raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who will become European Commission president in November, said the draft withdrawal agreement provided “certainty”.

She also broached a possible further delay to Britain’s departure, saying: “I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason.”

Johnson has pledged that under his leadership, Britain will leave “do or die” on the current deadline of October 31.

A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit, but attempts to pass legislation blocking the scenario have failed.

Reports this week suggested Johnson is considering plans to end the current session of parliament in early October, leaving MPs powerless.

Finance Minister Philip Hammond said Wednesday it was “terrifying” that some Brexit supporters thought that no deal would leave Britain better off.

And in a speech in London, May said the “best route” for Britain was to leave with a deal.

Delivering her last major address, she railed against the trend towards “absolutism” in Britain and abroad, and urged her successor to compromise.

“Whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long term, so that delivering Brexit brings our country back together. That has to mean some kind of compromise,” she said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • U.S. President Joe Biden, right, attends a state dinner hosted by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, at the National Museum of Korea.

    Biden, Yoon signal expanded military drills due to North Korea 'threat'

    US President Joe Biden and South Korea's new President Yoon Suk-yeol signalled Saturday an expanded military presence in response to the "threat" from North Korea, while also offering to help the isolated regime face a Covid-19 outbreak. Biden and Yoon also extended an offer of help to Pyongyang, which has recently announced it is in the midst of a Covid-19 outbreak, a rare admission of internal troubles.

  • FILE PHOTO: A serviceman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) walks at the damaged war memorial complex Savur-Mohyla during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Donbas region from the Nazi occupation during World War Two, outside the rebel-held city of Donetsk, Ukraine September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo

    Russia intensifies push for Donbas, halts gas to Finland

    Russia intensified an offensive in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on Saturday and stopped providing gas to Finland, escalating Moscow's dispute with the West over energy payments. After ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol, Russia is waging what appears to be a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas.

  • US National Guard soldiers guard the grounds of the US Capitol from behind a security fence in Washington, DC.

    New York judge approves congressional map, throwing Democrats into disarray

    A New York judge approved a new congressional map that pits two veteran Democratic incumbents against one another and boosts Republican odds of capturing more seats in November's midterm elections, further endangering Democrats' fragile US House majority. Republicans need to flip only five seats in November to win a majority in the House, which would enable them to block much of President Joe Biden's agenda.

  • File photo of Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

    Qatar FM says Iran's leadership open for a compromise on nuclear file: Report

    Qatar's foreign minister said on Saturday in remarks cited by al Jazeera TV that the Iranian leadership expressed readiness for a compromise regarding "the Iranian nuclear file", referring to talks over reviving a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. But Iran's Foreign Ministry said remarks by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were mistranslated by error or by design for propaganda purposes, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported.

  • A child looks at a destroyed Russian infantry fighting vehicle during an exhibition displaying destroyed Russian military vehicles, amid Russia's invasion, in central Kyiv, Ukraine.

    Ukrainian negotiator rules out ceasefire or concessions to Russia

    Ukraine on Saturday ruled out agreeing to a ceasefire with Russia and said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory. Acknowledging that Kyiv's stance on the war was becoming more uncompromising, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting. Both sides say peace talks have stagnated. A ceasefire would play into the Kremlin's hands, Podolyak said.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, May 22, 2022