Wire Service
2 minute read
15 Jan 2019
1:27 pm

UK business braces for Brexit vote


Eleventh-hour warnings on the financial fallout of a no-deal Brexit and a cap on trading in pounds -- British business on Tuesday braced itself for the UK parliament's vital vote.

Carmakers say a no-deal Brexit would 'risk destroying' their industry. AFP/Oli SCARFF

“As MPs prepare to vote on the government’s Brexit deal, we urge them to remember they hold the future of the British automotive industry — and the hundreds and thousands of jobs it supports — in their hands,” said the Mike Hawes, chief executive of UK car industry body the SMMT.

“Brexit is already causing us damage — in output, costs and jobs, but this does not compare with the catastrophic consequences of being cut adrift from our biggest trading partner overnight,” he added in a statement.

“Both government and parliament have a responsibility to take no-deal off the table or risk destroying this vital UK industry,” Hawes urged.

Few expect the deal to pass, but the scale of Prime Minister Theresa May’s expected defeat in parliament Tuesday could determine whether she tries again, loses office, delays Brexit — or if Britain even leaves the EU at all.

With just over two months to go until the scheduled Brexit date of March 29, a bitterly divided Britain is in limbo and the world awaits to see what will happen next.

Elsewhere Tuesday, the president of the CBI, Britain’s largest business lobby group, said the “vast majority” of UK business would like to see the Brexit deal passed.

Talking on BBC radio, John Allan said that even though it “looks extremely unlikely” that parliament will back the deal, the government must be immediately ready to preside over a no-deal Brexit.

This is “a time for very, very, clear leadership from the government and the time to bring people together”, Allan said.

“This will be a situation of national emergency. We are only 70-plus days from crashing out of the EU.”

Allan added that the UK “crashing out” of the European Union on March 29 without a deal “would do irreparable harm to the UK economy”.

A forex company is capping sterling transactions temporarily. AFP/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
A forex company is capping sterling transactions temporarily. AFP/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

Also Tuesday, foreign exchange group TransferWise said it was putting a 24-hour cap on sterling transactions above £10,000 ($12,839, 11,233 euros).

“It’s possible that the vote on the prime minister’s deal could have a significant impact on the foreign exchange market and so we are taking sensible precautions,” the company said in a statement.

“We’ll be capping the amount of money transfers to and from British pounds at £10,000. These temporary transfer limits mean 99 percent of our customers will benefit from our usual service.

“For the one percent affected, we’d suggest they make their transfer later in the week, or set up multiple smaller payments,” it added.