Pound rises on vote

MPs reject No Deal Brexit as Hammond appeals to ‘solemn duty’

Philip Hammond: growth at risk


MPs voted to reject leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement, but by the narrowest of margins – 312 to 308 – which critics say has little significant impact on the Brexit process.

It is a non-binding vote and still leaves businesses facing a disorderly exit because the government cannot get a deal agreed by the Commons. However, speculation grew that Prime Minister Theresa May will try for a third time to get her deal passed. MPs will vote today on whether to ask the EU for permission to delay Brexit beyond the 29 March departure date.

The pound hit $1.3270 and was up 1.5% against the dollar after the vote, having traded at $1.3240 beforehand. The pound was also up 0.9% against the euro.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It’s all well and good that Parliament has said it doesn’t want a no-deal exit, but without concrete action, its gestures are meaningless for business. A messy and disorderly exit on March 29 is still a clear and present danger.

“The reality is that without action, businesses still face an uncontrolled exit that they neither want nor are ready for. Extending Article 50 is now a necessity, but it’s no silver bullet for businesses.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond earlier urged cross party support to secure an orderly Brexit or put at risk the progress made in building the economy.

He said it was the “solemn duty” of all the house to set aside divisions and work towards an agreement.

“I am confident we are going to do a deal,” he told the Commons, and pledged to spend a £26.6bn “Brexit dividend” to boost the economy, if MPs vote to leave the European Union with an agreement.

Delivering his Spring Statement, Mr Hammond said Britain had achieved nine years of growth and was outperforming any G7 economy.

There had been 3.5 million net new jobs and the government had “halved Labour’s shocking legacy of youth unemployment. The government was delivering a faster rate of wage growth for a decade.

He said the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast growth of 1.2% this year, 1.4% next year and 1.6% over the following three years. By 2023 the economy would produce 600,000 new jobs and last year 96% of new jobs were full-time.

“I am confident that we, as a House, will do it over the coming weeks. Leaving with “No Deal” would mean significant disruption in the short- and medium-term… …and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the long-term, than if we leave with a Deal.”

He said that assuming a Brexit deal is agreed and uncertainty lifted he will launch a “full three-year spending review” before the summer recess.

Comment: Badly planned Brexit voyage in danger of sinking Britain

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