Lords Vote to Block Suspension of Parliament: Brexit Update

Alex Morales, Thomas Penny and Kitty Donaldson
Lords Vote to Block Suspension of Parliament: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s House of Lords backed a move designed to make a no-deal Brexit more difficult by stopping the next prime minister from closing down Parliament. The plan won’t become law until it has also been passed by members of Parliament in the Commons, where it is likely to face stronger opposition from pro-Brexit politicians.

Key Developments:

House of Lords passes amendment designed to stop next PM suspending Parliament to force through a no-deal split Pound rises Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay says chances of no-deal are under-priced Tory leadership favorite Boris Johnson Warns U.S. trade deal will take time

Johnson Warns U.S. Trade Deal Won’t be Quick (8:25 p.m.)

Tory leadership favorite Boris Johnson sought to manage expectations of how long a free-trade agreement with the U.S. might take after the U.K. leaves the EU.

“A deal with the U.S. is not going to be done in a trice,” Johnson told a Tory hustings event in London. “It’s not going to be something that adds several percentage points to U.K. GDP but it will substantially boost our GDP over time, but it’s not something that’s going to be done instantly."

On Brexit, Johnson also said he believes the EU withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May is "dead" and "needs to be junked."

Johnson Won’t Comment on Legislative Program (8:10 p.m.)

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declined to comment directly on the timing of a new legislative program announced by Queen Elizabeth II should he become prime minister.

Traditionally a fresh legislative session is started with a speech by the monarch setting out the government’s legislative program in November, with Parliament suspended a fortnight in advance.

By declining to comment Johnson failed to quash speculation he may suspend Parliament in order to allow no debate from lawmakers as the U.K. slides towards leaving the EU with no-deal Oct. 31.

Lords Vote to Hamper Suspension of Parliament (5:56 p.m.)

The House of Lords voted by 272 to 169 to back a measure intended to stop Theresa May’s successor as prime minister from suspending Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.

The amendment to legislation on Northern Ireland will now return to the House of Commons for debate on Thursday. It sets specific times when Parliament must be sitting to receive reports on progress made towards restoring the power-sharing government of Northern Ireland. As a result it will be difficult for Parliament to be suspended, or "prorogued," as the process is known.

Boris Johnson, the front-runner to become prime minister has repeatedly refused to rule out suspending Parliament to deliver Brexit, even as he says he’s not "attracted" to the idea.

May Calls for Compromise to Deliver Brexit (3:30 p.m.)

Theresa May, in what is expected to be her final set-piece speech as prime minister, warned against the “absolutism” and failure to compromise that meant her Brexit deal was unable to win the support of Parliament.

After detailing successes of compromise in global politics, ranging from the creation of the United Nations to the international climate agreement, the premier repeated her view that her successor should deliver an orderly Brexit, taking Britain out of the EU with a deal. People taking entrenched positions will stop progress, she said.

A coarsening in political debate has created “a form of ‘absolutism’ -- one which believes that if you simply assert your view loud enough and long enough you will get your way in the end, or that mobilizing your own faction is more important than bringing others with you,” May said in her speech in central London.

“When opinions have become polarized and driven by ideology it becomes incredibly hard for compromise to become a rallying point,” she said.

Lords to Vote on Blocking No-Deal Brexit (1:30 p.m.)

Later on Wednesday, members of the upper House of Lords are expected to vote on amendments to the Northern Ireland bill, including measures aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. Among them will be moves intended to stop the next prime minister from suspending Parliament to get it done.

If they pass, the amendments will return to the House of Commons for further debate on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman told reporters the government has no plans to pull the bill -- regardless of any amendments attached to it in the Lords.

Hammond and Rees-Mogg Clash Over No-Deal (12:10 p.m.)

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said it’s “terrifying” that leading Brexiteers think the U.K. would be “better off” with extra barriers to trade as a result of a no-deal Brexit. Hammond was responding to an article by Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, which derided government forecasts that the U.K. economy would suffer at least a 90 billion-pound hit if it leaves the EU without an agreement.

Rees-Mogg said a no-deal Brexit could actually boost the economy by 80 billion pounds and described Hammond’s negative view as “pure silliness.” Writing in the Telegraph, Rees-Mogg said Hammond is relying too much on “the Treasury’s ‘project fear’ economic models.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay laughed when he was asked about Hammond’s 90 billion figure.

U.K. Wants Fishing Rules to Continue in No-Deal (12 p.m.)

Barclay said the government would seek a “continuity approach” on fisheries if the U.K. leaves the European Union without a divorce agreement.

That’s despite the government’s no-deal guidance that EU-flagged vessels will be banned from fishing in U.K. waters in that scenario. It also runs against a key tenet of the Brexit campaign, that leaving the bloc would restore fishing rights in British waters to U.K. vessels.

“Legally in the event of no-deal, the U.K. government takes control of U.K. waters,” Barclay said. “The policy will be to take a continuity approach.” He later added: “It is in our mutual interests to come to a reciprocal arrangement.”

Barclay Says No-Deal Risk Underpriced (11 a.m.)

Barclay was asked by lawmakers if he thought the EU would be willing to offer concessions that would make the divorce deal acceptable to Parliament, which has rejected the current agreement three times.

“I think a no-deal is underpriced,” he replied.

He said he expected discussions with the EU on measures to mitigate the impact of no-deal would intensify if the chances of such an outcome increased. He said it would be in both sides’ interest to come to agreements on matters such as security and data.

He’s raised the issue of data with counterparts but it’s up to the European Commission to decide whether it would recognize the U.K. with a so-called adequacy agreement that would allow data to be transferred freely. He doesn’t expect a decision before Oct. 31.

Barclay Laughs at Hammond’s Forecasts (Earlier)

Barclay laughed when he was asked about Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond’s forecast that a no-deal exit would cost the economy 90 billion pounds.

“That figure assumes no government intervention,” he said, adding the Treasury itself is working on measures to soften the blow.

“Self-evidently the Treasury themselves would expect the landing zone to be different,” he said. “One needs to look at that in the round.”

He said the estimate “reflects research from the Treasury,” and only after repeated questioning, accepted that it represents the government’s position.

Hammond has been criticized by Brexit-backers for being too gloomy about Brexit, and even trying to block it. He has vowed to fight a no-deal exit.

Earlier:

Pound Seen Plunging to Parity Against Dollar on a No-Deal BrexitLawyer Who Took On Brexit May Sue Over Suspending Parliament

--With assistance from Stuart Biggs and Jessica Shankleman.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Emma Ross-Thomas

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.