Brexit Bulletin: Good News for Ireland

Charlotte Ryan

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Today in Brexit: Ireland’s Phil Hogan is set to take the post of EU trade commissioner, sending an important signal about the approach to negotiating Brexit.

What’s Happening? The top trade job in the European Union looks set to go to Irish Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, in a sign of the importance of striking post-Brexit trade terms that will satisfy both the U.K. and its Irish neighbor. 

It’s a good sign for Ireland. The appointment sends a message of solidarity to the Irish government, and means an outspoken critic of how the U.K. has handled Brexit so far is about to take center stage. “Big Phil,” so named because he stands close to 6 feet 5 inches tall, has previously accused  U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “gambling” with the peace process.

It may also be good for Britain. Hogan’s appointment suggests that forging relations with Britain as it departs the bloc is a priority for new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The U.K. government can also take heart from the fact that Hogan is likely to be constructive in forming a relationship, since Ireland has more of a stake in maintaining close trading ties than any other country. 

Meanwhile, there are four ways the current Brexit drama could play out, writes my colleague Rob Hutton: Johnson gets an exit deal with the EU; he goes for  a no-deal departure — either by finding a loophole in the law passed last week to force him to seek an extension or by simply ignoring it — and then calls an election; he backs down and seeks an extension before calling an election; he resigns or is forced out.  

Whatever happens, Britain could be looking at its first December election in 100 years.

Today’s Must-Reads

Labour’s divisions on Brexit will be on show today as Deputy Leader Tom Watson calls for the party to “unambiguously” back remaining in the EU, and to push for an early second referendum, the Guardian reports. Northern England’s “murdered” towns need more to look forward to than Brexit, writes Sebastian Payne in the Financial Times.  Soccer simulation game Football Manager incorporates various Brexit scenarios in its 2019 version, in a move that’s not always popular with players, writes Cian Maher in the Washington Post. 

Brexit in Brief

Gearing Up | Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn promised sweeping changes to British workers’ rights and an attack on those who “hoard the wealth and dodge their taxes” if his Labour Party wins a U.K. general election. Despite having twice blocked the government’s bid for a snap election, Corbyn is in campaign mode as the U.K. gears up for a national ballot expected in the fall.

Cross Party | A cross-party group is seeking a way out of the Brexit “nightmare” by working together to find a deal that can secure a majority in Parliament, suggesting a Northern Ireland-only backstop on the border issue may be one answer. Still, the plan could run into trouble with the Northern Irish DUP, Tory allies in Parliament, which would likely veto it. DUP leader Arlene Foster said Johnson had ruled out the option when the two met for talks in Downing Street.

Frankfurt Chatter  | The U.K.’s impending exit from the EU was a hot topic at Germany’s premier auto exhibition. BMW would reduce output at its plant in Oxford by eliminating a work shift if the U.K. opted for a total Brexit, according to the company’s chief financial officer, Nicolas Peter. 

ETF Angst | The U.K.’s Brexit battle has exchange-traded fund investors heading to the exits. Close to $177 million has left the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF in September, after the fund suffered its biggest daily withdrawal in more than 10 months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Great British Peso | It’s been a quip on trading desks for years, but Bank of England Governor Mark Carney became the latest to compare the pound to an emerging market currency Tuesday. Speaking at an event in New York, he said pound volatility was at emerging market levels “for obvious reasons.” 

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