by Larry Neild LONDON
United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British Prime
Minister Theresa May faced possibly the toughest two and half hours
of her premiership Monday after waves of British MPs spoke against
the deal she had brokered for Britain’s departure from the European
Media reports say around 90 of the Conservative
backbench MPs have so far said they will vote against her deal,
essentially making it an impossible mission unless they change their
Even normally loyal Conservative MPs told May they could not
support the agreement and political statement endorsed by EU leaders
in Brussels on Sunday.
With confirmation that the so-called Meaningful Vote on Brexit is
slated for Dec. 11, May seems to be staring defeat in the face if
Monday’s reaction across the political divides is the litmus test.
House of Commons officials say the big debate, expected to be
bloody fierce, will span five full days, starting on Dec. 4.
A vote against the deal would plunge the whole Brexit scenario
into unchartered water, including the prospect of Britain leaving
the bloc with no deal, relying on WTO terms for its future trading
with its former EU member states.
May defended the deal during an intense and often angry debate in
the chamber of the House of Commons, lasting two hours and 36
Only a handful of MPs supported her deal, while dozens speaking
Still, May insisted the deal was good for Britain, and delivered
the result of the June 2016 referendum when Britain voted to end its
The prime minister has started the week on a so-called charm
offensive to "sell" her deal to the people of Britain.
But the big question remains what would happen if, as now seems
possible, there is a No vote on Dec. 11?
May has refused to answer when asked if she would quit Number 10
if there is a vote against her deal.
Political experts say options could include Britain asking for an
extension of the Article 50 period which set a two-year timetable,
ending next March for the so-called divorce.
British negotiators could ask for the deal to be tweaked to make
it more palatable to British MPs.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted in
Brussels Sunday that there would no changes to the deal.
Speaking in the House of Commons, May said she did not pretend
that either Britain or the EU are entirely happy with the
May said there was no alternative deal that honors the
government’s commitments to Northern Ireland which does not involve
an insurance policy over the issue of the border with Ireland.
Looking towards Dec. 11, May said there is a choice the House of
Commons will have to make.
"We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and
move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity
for all our people," she said.
"Or this House can choose to reject this deal and go back to
"Because no-one knows what would happen if this deal doesn’t
"It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty,
with all the risks that will entail."
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, told
May that ploughing on with a deal opposed by the public and MPs was
an act of national self-harm.
Politicians from all of the other parties, the Liberal Democrats,
Scottish and Welsh Nationalist parties, the Democratic Unionist
Party, all indicated strong opposition.
May’s newly appointed Brexit Secretary, Steve Barclay, the third
politician to hold the job this year, warned the Dec. 11 date for
the big vote would be a challenge.
If Parliament rejects the deal, the country would enter
"unchartered waters," Barclay said.
The Guardian newspaper commented Monday night:
"The scale of the opposition made it extremely hard to see how
she (May) could turn opinion around in time for the vote, now
scheduled for a fortnight tomorrow."
The Daily Telegraph meanwhile said Brexiteers from May’s
Conservative Party said she hadn’t a prayer of winning the vote,
with one saying her deal’s as dead as a dodo, while another MP said
May needs a Plan B.
May’s Conservative Party holds 316 seats in the House of Commons,
relying on support from the 10 Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist
Party (DUP) MPs to give her a potential of 326 votes, a majority of
If the 10 DUP politicians and the 90 Conservative MPs vote with
opposition parties on Dec. 11, it could see May losing by a brutal
landslide, leaving her more than 100 short of a majority.
Still, May remained determined to see the deal through.
"The British people want MPs to get on with a deal and allow the
country to come together," she said.
UPDATES and EARLIER
British Prime Minister Theresa
May applies circuitous tactics
in fighting to win parliamentary support for her Brexit deal
by Xinhua writer Gu Zhenqiu LONDON
United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British Prime
Minister Theresa May on Tuesday embarked on an election-style
campaign across the country, leaving behind a hostile House of
Commons, which will cast the make-or-break vote on her Brexit deal
on Dec. 11 after five days of debate by members of parliament.
The prime minister on Tuesday morning headed to Wales before her
trips to Northern Ireland and Scotland later this week, followed by
travels in England in a week’s time after she returns from the Group
of 20 summit in Argentina.
With the beginning of the two-week campaign, May is applying
circuitous tactics by going over the heads of members of parliament
to appeal directly to the whole nation to back her Brexit deal,
which won formal endorsement by the 27 leaders of the European Union
(EU) member states.
Downing Street believes a direct appeal to voters will help get
her controversial deal through the parliament, where 90 Tory members
publicly stated that they will vote against the EU-UK agreement on
how Britain will leave the regional bloc on March 29 next year.
As things stand, May knows she faces defeat when the deal comes
before the House of Commons next month as enemies on all sides gang
up on her.
The "meaningful vote", as described by the British government, is
believed to be the most significant in the United Kingdom in more
than half a century since the House of Commons decided in 1971 to
join the EU.
In fact, it is members of parliament, not voters across the
nation, who will cast the "meaningful vote."
May’s strategists hope that by stirring up a supportive public
mood, they can force the politicians to shut out the tearoom chatter
in Westminster and help her deliver Brexit in her own way.
In the upcoming vote, there is only one candidate—the prime
minister herself, and only one policy—the Brexit deal.
May has repeatedly ruled out a second referendum, "Plan B" and
any possible amendments to her Brexit plans.
The signs of May’s circuitous tactics emerged shortly after the
European leaders supported the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement
and 26-page political declaration.
The prime minister asked the members of parliament to "listen" to
their constitutes who are fed up with Brexit and want to "move on."
Meanwhile, the prime minister also wrote an open letter to the
British people imploring voters to put pressure on wavering members
of parliament to back her.
She hopes it might just give her the numbers she needs to get her
Brexit plans through a divided parliament and reunite a warring
"We will then begin a new chapter in our national life.
"I want that to be a moment of renewal and reconciliation for our
whole country," she said in the letter.
"It must put aside the labels of ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ for good
and we come together again as one people."
Faced with a risk of a heavy defeat in the parliament, the prime
minister urged all her cabinet to join her in trying to sell the
In her previous efforts, she also tried to win over members of
parliament by mobilizing public and business opinion in favor of her
"My deal delivers for every corner of the UK and I will work hard
to strengthen the bonds that unite us," she said.
European Union backs Brexit
deal as United Kingdom Prime Minister
Theresa May faces hard battle to win support from Westminster
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
The deal that will see Britain ending its membership
of the European Union (EU) was approved in Brussels Sunday at a
special summit of the European Council.
There was a stark message from Jean-Claude Juncker, President of
the European Commission, to British politicians who have threatened
to reject the deal.
He said: "Those who think that by rejecting this deal will have a
better deal will be disappointed within seconds the rejection of
Juncker described Britain’s decision to leave the EU as a sad
moment and a tragedy, but he added that he did not think Britain
would be a third country (non-EU member) like any other third
EU Council President Donald Tusk added: "This is the only deal
Leaders of EU member states backed both the 585-page withdrawal
agreement setting out the terms of Britain’s exit from the bloc, as
well as the political declaration detailing what the UK-EU
relationship may be like after Brexit.
The first confirmation of the decision in Brussels came in a
one-sentence social media message from the President of the EU
Council, Donald Tusk.
He simply said: "EU27 has endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and
Political Declaration on the future of EU-UK declarations."
The stage is set for Britain to end its membership after 45 years
on March 29 next year, though the following day an implementation
period will start meaning there will be no changes until the end of
At the Brussels’ press conference Tusk said the EU and Britain
would remain friends until the end of days, and one day longer.
He added: "Ahead of us is the difficult process of ratification
as well as further negotiation."
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said at the
"Now is the time for everyone to take responsibility."
There was immediate reaction from opponents of the deal,
indicating that British Prime Minister Theresa May will struggle to
win vital backing for today’s deal when the British House of Commons
has its say around Dec. 10.
That decision could see Britain crashing out of the EU next March
with no deal.
Opposition members of parliament, as well as MPs from May’s own
Conservative Party have threatened to reject the deal.
May, speaking at a media conference, said today’s decision marks
the culmination of talks with the EU, but also the start of a
crucial national debate.
MPs in Britain, she added, will vote whether to support the deal
Asked if she had a plan B if the deal is rejected by MPs, May
said EU leaders had said this was the only possible deal.
"It’s not the case that there is another negotiation to be done.
"This is the deal that’s been agreed, it’s the only deal that’s
on the table," May said.
May would not be drawn when asked by several journalists if she
would resign as prime minister if the House of Commons rejected her
Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for Britain’s main opposition
Labour Party, said:
"This is a bad deal for our country.
"It’s a failure of negotiation by a Prime Minister who has spent
more time arguing with her party than working in the national
"The result is a deal that no-one supports. Labour will vote
Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP), described May’s proposals as worse than no
deal, and worse than staying in the EU.
May relies on the 10 DUP votes at Westminster to give her
minority government its slender majority.
Dodds said in a BBC radio interview:
"The government is going to spend the next fortnight engaged in
all sorts of project fear initiatives in order to try to get MPs to
vote for something that is clearly unsatisfactory."
He added the DUP would not be bought off, saying there is
absolutely no way the deal can go through.
In an attempt to win public support for the deal Britain’s main
national Sunday newspapers published a direct plea from May to the
May said in her letter:
"It will be a deal that is in our national interest, one that
works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted
‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’," adding it will honor the result of the 2016
referendum when British people voted by a 52-48 margin to leave the
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in a London television interview,
described the deal as a compromise, saying it was not perfect, but
it could be a staging post to a situation giving Britain 100 percent
of what it wants.
Britain’s mainland Europe neighbors lamented the departure.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said:
"This is a historical day, which leaves mixed feelings.
"It’s tragic that the UK is leaving the European Union."
Merkel refused to be drawn on the consequences of the deal being
rejected by the British parliament.
May will get a sense of Westminster politicians Monday when she
addresses the House of Commons.
Conservative party managers hope that enough MPs will rally
around May to ensure the parliamentary green light is given.
More businesses in Britain
in year after Brexit vote, survey reveals
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
Almost 15 percent of all businesses in Britain traded
internationally in 2017, up in the first full year after the
decision in the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU),
figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed
The survey revealed that non-financial services remained the
largest sector trading internationally, accounting for 53.1 percent
of the total international traders in Britain.
This was followed by the distribution sector, with 31.2 percent
of the number of businesses reporting international trade.
ONS said there were more importers than exporters, with estimated
numbers of 247,500 and 235,800 respectively.
Of the importers, a majority of them imported goods rather than
For exports, more businesses exported services than goods
(146,600 and 115,200 respectively).
England boasts the largest number of businesses trading
internationally in Britain, making up 93 percent of the total, while
London accounted for 26 percent of the total.
Of all of the businesses trading internationally 98.7 percent
were small-and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) employing less than
250 employees,which means 14.2 percent of the total number of SMEs
traded internationally in 2017.
In comparison, 53.8 percent of large businesses in Britain with
250 or more staff traded internationally.
Foreign-owned businesses represented 5 percent of the total
number of businesses trading internationally.
British banking system would
survive even worst Brexit: Bank of England
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
The British banking system would survive the worst
Brexit that would throw at it, according to comprehensive set of
tests revealed by the Bank of England (BoE) on Wednesday.
A series of tests run on the major financial institutions
operating in Britain earlier in the year were issued by the BoE’s
financial sector regulator the Financial Policy Committee (FPC).
The results of the tests were contained in the FPC’s November
Financial Stability Report (FSR) released late on Wednesday
In the 2018 stress test the BoE modelled a British GDP fall of
4.75 percent, a rise in the jobless rate to 9.5 percent, a property
price fall of 33 percent and a commercial property fall of 40
In addition, the model contained a 27 percent fall in the
sterling rate and a rise in inflation to 4 percent, and a fall in
global GDP of 2.4 percent.
The FSR said that for the first time since its inception in 2008
in the wake of the financial crisis, all seven financial
institutions tested passed the test.
The stress test contained a global recession, making it a more
severe strain on the British economy than the worst-case scenario of
a Disorderly Brexit, details of which the BoE released earlier in
BoE governor Mark Carney told journalists at a press conference
to launch the FSR that Brexit was the biggest influence on economic
He said: "As today’s stress tests reveal, the core of our
financial system is strong—major banks have capital ratios three and
a half times higher than before the financial crisis."
He added: "Based on a comparison with the 2018 stress test, the
FPC judges that the UK banking system is strong enough to serve ...
in the event of a disorderly Brexit."
The BoE expressed concern in the FSR at potential disruption that
derivatives traders and UK central counterparties (CCPs) faced with
uncertainty over the legal standing of outstanding derivatives
trades and swaps which would mature after the formal Brexit date of
The BoE welcomed the European Commission’s recent statement that
it is willing to act to ensure that EU counterparties can continue
to clear their derivatives at UK CCPs after March 2019.
The BoE added: "However without greater clarity on the scope,
conditions and timing of the prospective EU action, the contracts
that EU members have cleared with UK CCPs would need to be closed
out or transferred by March 2019."
The FPC said it would retain its current countercyclical capital
buffer (CCyB) at 1 percent, but would move the buffer up or down if
necessary depending on Brexit circumstances.
The BoE last cut the CCyB in July 2016 to mitigate any bad
reaction following the Brexit referendum vote, and said that a cut
to 0 percent would give banks and financial institutions an
additional 250 billion pounds (320 billion U.S. dollars) of leeway.
(1 pound = 1.28 U.S. dollars)
United Kingdom economy suffers
Brexit scenario: Controversial goverment report
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
The British government issued economic
forecasts on Wednesday which showed that Britain could see a
3.9-percent drop in GDP over the coming 15 years under Prime
Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
The 83-page report produced jointly by various departments across
the British government including the Treasury modeled several
different Brexit outcomes, and compared those with current growth in
The government did not provide a detailed cost of this type of
Brexit, but British media reported experts estimating that it would
have an annual debit effect of 100 billion pounds (128.3 billion
U.S. dollars) 15 years from now.
In event of worst outcome, the No Deal Brexit, which would take
place if Britain and the EU did not support the agreement reached
between May and the EU, Britain’s GDP would decline by 9.3 percent
in 15 years’ time than if the UK had remained in the EU.
Several Brexit outcomes were modeled in the government report.
The report said under a Canada-style deal, the UK would be 4.9
percent worse off than remaining in the EU while the most favorable
Brexit outcome was seen if Britain had frictionless trade and kept
free movement of people, which would see the economy suffer just a
1.4 percent hit.
If Britain kept frictionless trade but restricted free movement
of people there would be a 2.5-percent decline.
Britain could lose eight
percentage points of GDP growth
with 'Disorderly Brexit' suggests Bank of England report
LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
A "Disorderly Brexit" could cost Britain eight
percentage points of potential GDP growth over the next five years,
the Bank of England (BoE) said in a report released on Wednesday.
The BoE said the loss of 8 percentage points in potential GDP
growth between November this year and the end of 2023 could occur in
what it found to be the worst-case scenario for Brexit when the exit
process formally ends but without any deal on trade or tariffs.
Under this worst-case scenario, dubbed a Disorderly Brexit by the
BoE in its EU Withdrawal Report, there would be no deal between
Britain and the 27 remaining nations in the EU bloc, and both the EU
and Britain would impose tariffs on goods and services,
"The reduction in openness will act to reduce the UK economy’s
productive capacity and in most scenarios its rate of growth in the
"Leaving the EU abruptly, without a withdrawal agreement and
implementation period would amplify these effects," The BoE report
A Disorderly Brexit would also mean that Britain’s profitable
financial sector would trade with the EU under the World Trade
Organization (WTO) rules, raising barriers and costs.
In addition, Britain’s trade under this Disorderly Brexit would
suffer a serious blow outside the EU, with Britain losing any of the
benefits of trade treaties negotiated until now by the EU, which it
The BoE report said: "Brexit is unique.
"Large negative supply shocks are relatively rare, and there is
no precedent of an advanced economy withdrawing from a trade
agreement as deep and complex as the EU."
The strong negative effects of the Disorderly Brexit would see a
sharp rise in unemployment, and an increase in Consumer Price Index
(CPI) inflation to 6.5 percent (CPI October rate is 2.4 percent).
House prices would fall 30 percent, and commercial property
prices by 48 percent, while there would be an outflow of workers
from the British economy, with a subsequent problem for employers of
a mismatch between jobs open and skilled workers to fill the posts.
The BoE stressed this was the worst-case scenario and provided a
series of less gloomy possible outcomes.
Under the BoE’s model of a Disruptive Brexit, which would see
tariffs and other barriers between Britain and the EU suddenly
introduced, Britain would retain the benefit of the EU’s trade deals
negotiated up to now and would recognise EU product standards,
however the EU would not reciprocate for British goods.
Under the "Disruptive Brexit", GDP would lose 3 percent of its
potential growth over the next five years, joblessness would again
rise sharply but to 5.75 percent and CPI inflation would peak at
The BoE also modelled Brexit scenarios based on the agreement
between the British government and the EU, with two separate levels
of a deal labelled as Close Deal and Less Close Deal.
The best outcome modelled was for Britain to "retain a Close
Economic Partnership with the EU", which would see comprehensive
arrangements for free trade in goods and some trade in business and
Under the Close Deal scenario, GDP growth would gain 1.75
percentage points over its current path, with both inflation and
unemployment falling below their current projected levels for most
of the five years up to the end of 2023.
The BoE modelled with its Less Close Deal scenario a loss of 0.75
percentage points to GDP growth with marginal rises in both jobless
rates and inflation rates.
The BoE drew up its EU Withdrawal report at the request of
British Parliament’s House of Commons Treasury Committee, and the
report will be delivered to committee members on Thursday and will
be available to inform Members of Parliament (MPs) in their vote on
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement with the EU,
which is scheduled for December 11.
Northern Ireland politicians could still threaten May
As last minute talks continue what could 'No Deal' mean
United States and United Kingdom reach
post-Brexit 'Open Skies' deal on air services
Theresa May could suffer 200-vote defeat when Commons decides on
her Brexit deal