As MPs returned from their Christmas break, there was much Brexit-related news to get our teeth into. Theresa May is set to chair a new Brexit cabinet committee that has been set up to plan for Brexit, including preparations for no-deal. Speaking of which, there was a no-deal Brexit rehearsal yesterday featuring a trial of an emergency traffic system which is designed to cope with 6,000 vehicles. The rehearsal was branded ‘a waste of time’ by drivers who participated, not least because only 87 trucks took part.
The Department of Transport staged the test in a disused airport in Kent and, while the 33-mile journey to Dover went ahead without a hitch, drivers complained that because the exercise was so small, it was pointless. Kent county council has warned there will be major disruptions across Kent in the event of a no-deal Brexit, while the Calais politician, Xavier Bertrand, said even a two-minute delay would lead to a 27,000-strong queue on both sides of the Channel.
UK car sales fell by the biggest amount since the days of the financial crisis in December 2018. New registrations dropped by 6.8% last year, which is the second annual decline in a row. As well as regulatory upheavals and anti-diesel policies, waning consumer and business confidence as a result of Brexit is also having an effect. Aston Martin revealed that it has triggered some of its Brexit contingency plans, with the Chief Executive, Andy Palmer, telling Reuters: “I don’t think we’ve been in a position in the last two years where we’ve been further apart from understanding where we’re going to end up.”
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Yesterday, government sources confirmed the date of the crucial vote on May’s Brexit deal will take place on Tuesday, 15 January. If the deal is voted down, there are seven possible paths:
- May brings the deal back to MPs, perhaps with some minor tweaks
- May resigns immediately
- Tory backbenchers depose May and then try to negotiate a deal
- May calls a general election
- Labour tries to trigger a general election
- A second referendum becomes a very real possibility
- No deal
All of these outcomes would likely cause varying degrees of volatility, but your guess is as good as ours when it comes to knowing which outcome it will be. Of course, the deal might yet win support, especially if May can secure some guarantees from the EU, but it currently looks unlikely.
Today we have business and consumer confidence figures from the eurozone, as well as the latest industrial productions figures from Germany. We will see the Halifax house price index for December and the US balance of trade figures from the US.