Super Saturday or stuck in a Brexit rut?

Super Saturday or stuck in a Brexit rut?

It was billed as Super Saturday and for those of us watching the rugby it certainly was.

For those of us watching MPs file into Westminster only to exit some hours later after much shouting and nothing really changing, it was far less momentous.

What actually happened, and what does it mean? 

Well, it’s all become very political, so if you are not keen on the rules around law making and breaking, you won’t enjoy the next bit.

In short – the government pulled the parliamentary vote on the deal Prime Minister Johnson had agreed with the European Union, despite getting MPs into work on a weekend, something they don’t usually do. 

The reason they were working overtime was the Benn Act (passed by MPs earlier in the year, meaning that if a deal proposed by the government was not voted for by a majority of MPs, the PM needed to ask Brussels for another extension) deadline was 11pm on Saturday night.

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It was widely expected that PM Johnson would take a vote on his “new deal”, as insiders felt he had enough to pass the 50% needed – despite having kicked out several high-ranking Tories just a few weeks ago.

However, before he could do so, Oliver Letwin MP tabled an amendment, which would make it almost impossible to leave on October 31 without a deal agreed by the majority of MPs. It’s to do with the UK parliament needing its own law saying it will accept the bill – and that’s not happened. It’s all quite complex.

Letwin – and the 322 MPs who voted for his amendment – was suspicious that the deal was a shortcut to get the UK to skip getting a deal at all and leave the EU with nothing in place.

To do so would mean no transition period, leaving the UK without any real trading opportunities until the government got out there and made some deals and most of us not really knowing whether we’d need a visa to travel or take our pets on holiday (amongst many other issues).

So – after all this had happened on Saturday, the PM, by law, had to send a letter to the EU requesting an extension. He did so, but without his signature, and then another saying he hadn’t really wanted to send the first one, but he had to obey the law.

However, a letter is a letter and the law is the law, so European leaders are now discussing whether they will grant an extension or not. They may be as bored/confused/frustrated as the rest of us and say “no”, but we won’t know that for a little while.

In the meantime, PM Johnson may try and get his deal through parliament as soon as Monday, and if he is successful, the Benn Act, Letwin Amendment and extension demand are all irrelevant.

However – it is worth noting that without the support of the Tories who defected to other parties this year and those who have been removed, it’s a tough ask. Additionally, the PM has been relying on the DUP from Northern Ireland, who are less than impressed with what he’s offering.

So that’s where we are.

For investors, stock and currency markets have been closed while this has been going on but be sure to look to early trading and the Asian markets on Monday – they will give a clue as to what they think is happening.

Markets don’t like uncertainty, and we just got another heavy load of it. 

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