May’s Brexit deal defeated again: Industry heavyweights react

By Justin Cash

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Mar 14, 2019

Last night, Theresa May suffered another blow in her attempts to get a Brexit deal through parliament. Leading investment, pensions and advice experts have weighed in with their reactions on the way forward amid  the uncertainty.

This is very worrying. Failure to agree a deal with Brexit just weeks away only adds to the uncertainty for our customers and the insurance industry.

It is vital that decisive action is taken to avoid a no-deal Brexit this week. If the only alternative to no deal is some form of short delay to Brexit, then delay we should.

Association of British Insurers director general Huw Evans

The rejection of May’s deal sends one certain message to markets: more uncertainty. Sterling had picked up a bit on the prospect of a breakthrough in Strasbourg, but lost ground during Westminster debate.

While the probabilities have shifted toward some form of a softer Brexit, the final destination remains uncertain and will continue to deter business investment. This also means more economic standstill so the Bank of England will need to hold off on raising rates.

State Street Global Advisors head of policy and research Elliot Hentov

It is extremely disappointing that after such long negotiations and a second meaningful vote, the Brexit uncertainty continues.

We are now merely weeks away from the Article 50 deadline, and it is critical that every effort is made to avoid a no-deal exit from the EU. This is by far the least desirable outcome for the millions of people who entrust us with their savings and for our industry. Since the Brexit referendum, British savers have taken nearly £19bn out of UK equity funds, which reflects broader concerns about the strength of the UK economy. A no-deal Brexit will only serve to further dent investors’ confidence in the UK economy, and every effort must be made to avoid it.

Given the continued uncertainty that today’s result brings, the industry has no option but to implement their long-established no-deal contingency plans.

Investment Association chief executive Chris Cummings

Yesterday’s defeat of the government’s revised Brexit bill left markets little moved with the pound back right in the middle of the already quite tight $1.30-1.33 trading range of the last few weeks. The defeat was not after all unexpected and more importantly the markets remain as bemused as everyone else as to where we are headed – a No-deal, a short or long extension to Brexit, a referendum, May’s resignation or a general election are all to varying degrees still all quite possible.

With all these options still on the table, sterling seems almost paralysed by the uncertainties. We have deliberately hedged our bets: we have a sizeable exposure to overseas equities which would benefit a fall in the pound on a No-Deal whilst retaining a tilt to mid-caps within our UK equity exposure which would benefit from any kind of deal.

Kingswood head of research Rupert Thompson

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