Nov 1, 2019

Brexit limbo continues for businesses as deadline shifts again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The latest Brexit extension takes the prospect of an economically calamitous "no deal" Brexit off the table until Jan. 31, but businesses remain in a state of very expensive limbo.

Why it matters: "It is hugely costly, in terms of money but also in terms of effort and energy. So much has been put into this process and into emergency 'no deal' planning that could have been used in other areas," says Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation.

  • While warnings of a "Brexit recession" following the referendum haven't come to fruition, the impact has already been felt — and Brexit hasn't actually happened yet.
  • "The real implications will play out over time," says McGuinness, whose organization represents London’s powerful financial services sector. "But we’ve seen investments slow down, we’ve seen people put decisions on hold, and we hear about people having problems recruiting."

What to watch: “The big worry I have is we have an inconclusive election, and where does that take us? We can’t just keep going on this treadmill where no progress is made.”

  • Brexit will also not be over when it's over — the trading relationship between the U.K. and EU must still be negotiated, and more deadlines loom in 2020 and beyond.
  • McGuinness points out that Switzerland, which isn't an EU member, has been in a "constant state of negotiation" with the bloc for years.

The bottom line: McGuinness is confident London will remain a global financial center after Brexit. But she worries that the economic pain that comes along with it will make it even harder to "put back together this rather fractured society."

Go deeper

U.K. election: Boris Johnson's path to victory resembles Trump's in 2016

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

LONDON — Thursday was supposed to be Brexit Day — deal or no deal, "do or die" — but instead it’s the dawn of an election campaign that could determine whether Brexit happens at all, not to mention who’ll be leading the U.K. for the next five years.

The big picture: Still just three months in as prime minister, Boris Johnson is gambling everything for a parliamentary majority that will allow him to, per his constant refrain, “get Brexit done.” As he studies the electoral map, Johnson might see a path to victory that President Trump would recognize.

Go deeperArrowNov 1, 2019

Ahead of snap election, Boris Johnson apologizes for missing Brexit deadline

Photo: Aaron Chown/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News on Sunday that failing to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union on Oct. 31 was a matter of "deep regret" for him and that he would apologize to the Conservative Party, according to the AP.

Why it matters: Johnson repeatedly promised to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31 during the party leadership race that brought him to power in July, at one point stating that he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask the EU for an extension.

Go deeperArrowNov 3, 2019

Brexit's effect on business

Data: IHS Markit/CIPS; Note: November 2019 reading is based on 85% of respondent's data; Chart: Axios Visuals

A closely watched survey of private sector activity showed the bleakest outlook for U.K. businesses since July 2016 — which was right after the country voted to leave the European Union.

Why it matters: The Brexit back-and-forth has left businesses in a tailspin amid a softening global economy.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019