Just two days after seven MPs resigned from the Labour party, three Tory MPs followed suit to join the newly formed Independent Group. Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen all gave slightly different reasons for leaving the Conservative party. Allen criticised the Tories for their inability to create a compassionate welfare system, saying “I can no longer represent a party that can’t open its eyes to suffering in our society. Suffering that has deepened, when it was in our power to fix it.”; Wollaston said the tolerant, modern, open-hearted Conservative party she joined has since disappeared; and Soubry said “The rightwing, hardline anti-EU awkward squad are running the Conservative party from top to toe.”
Jeremy Hunt spoke at the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation in Berlin and said that the UK needs a ‘simple but important change’ to the Northern Ireland backstop. Ultimately, the change is for the European Union to ensure that Britain is not trapped in the customs union forever. He added that nobody wants a no-deal outcome, which does not seem to be the case; there appear to be plenty hardline anti-EU Conservatives who want just that. Time is running out, but Theresa May is making a last-ditch attempt to save her Brexit deal – the one that suffered the heaviest Parliamentary defeat of modern times.
The Confederation of British Industry’s industrial trends orders easily beat market expectations, while the eurozone’s flash consumer confidence indicator rose by 0.5 points to -7.4 in February 2019. In America, there was no news on trade talks between the US and China and Wall Street reacted accordingly after the opening bell by doing precisely nothing. The currency markets were extremely quiet too, with very little movement between the major currency pairings.
Today we have a rather busy day for economic data, beginning with Germany’s inflation rate in January. We will also see manufacturing and services PMI from Germany, the eurozone and America. The UK’s public sector net borrowing figures for January are also scheduled for release, as are initial jobless claims and existing home sales from the US. There could well be further resignations from the Labour and Tory parties.
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