-Brexit extensions and referendum option
The U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May might have gained some time with an extension granted from the European Union until Oct. 31, however, recent reports claim that the opposition in her party is trying to replace her by next month. Nonetheless, some market and business fears have been abated over the possibility of a no deal Brexit, which now looks less likely.
Speaking to BBC last Friday, April 12, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, warned that further uncertainty would take its toll on U.K. economic growth. She said that prolonged uncertainty would sustain a negative impact on confidence because investors have many choices to make in terms of whether and how they can expand their businesses, how they can organize a supply chain, and what the Brexit outcome will be.
“So it would have a negative impact, no question about it,” she said.
On April 11, John Allan, the president of the Confederation of Business Industry – the U.K.’s largest business organization - said if politicians cannot "get their act together" on Brexit, then the only other option is to "go back to the people".
“The idea of a second Brexit referendum is very likely to be put before Parliament again although the government remains opposed to any new plebiscite,” Reuters quoted Chancellor Philip Hammond as saying on Friday.
“I remain optimistic that over the next couple of months we will get a deal done,” he told reporters in Washington.
The leaders of the European Union agreed late Wednesday, April 10, to grant an extension to the U.K. on Brexit up to the end of October with a review in June.
European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter that the EU’s 27 member states and the U.K. reached the agreement at an emergency Brexit summit.
“EU27 has agreed on an extension of Art. 50. I will now meet PM Theresa May for the U.K. government's agreement,” Tusk tweeted.
“EU27/U.K. have agreed a flexible extension until 31 October. This means additional six months for the U.K. to find the best possible solution,” he said in a later tweet.
Tusk said if the U.K. ratifies a withdrawal agreement, the extension period would be terminated.
He urged that U.K. players take responsibility and waste no time in finding a solution during this extension period.