Sterling slumps ahead of May’s crunch no-deal Brexit vote as Bercow chooses amendments
Sterling has taken a tumble as fears grow that Theresa May will be defeated in parliament this evening by the hard Brexiters among her party.
The pound fell from 1.287 this morning to as low as 1.278 against the dollar this afternoon as investors grew scared that the Prime Minister may not win a vote that would see MPs support leaving the EU with a deal.
Read more: Brexit uncertainty costs UK £800m a week, says Bank of England
Against the euro, sterling dropped from 1.41 to 1.31.
May has consistently said that the option of a no-deal Brexit must remain on the table, but businesses have broadly been keen to rule it out, with the Bank of England saying it would spell danger for the UK economy.
The vote, scheduled for 5pm, would effectively take no-deal Brexit off the table.
Speaker John Bercow has selected three amendments for the motion:
A Labour amendment that requires the government to give MPs a vote on the withdrawal agreement by 27 February or admit there is no deal by that date, and allow MPs to vote on the next steps.
An SNP amendment that would delay Brexit by at least 12 weeks.
Remainer MP Anna Soubry's amendment that would force the government to publish the most recent business briefings on the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
Labour MP Hilary Benn said on Twitter: “What’s really evident about today’s Brexit debate is that it’s actually a negotiation between the Brexit Secretary and the ERG about whether they will support the Government motion rather than a negotiation about what’s best for the national interest.”
Earlier today trade secretary Liam Fox issued a call for unity among Tory MPs, but opening a debate in parliament on this evening’s motion, Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay struggled to please Remainer and Brexiter MPs.
"The government's priority is to address the indefinite nature of the backstop, which under Article 50 is legally required to be temporary," Barclay said.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper claimed the Prime Minister’s agreement will lead to a “blindfold Brexit, with no idea what kind of arrangements the UK faces”.
Read more: Theresa May set for another showdown with Brexiter Tories in Commons vote
It comes as S&P Global warned that a “small number” of Irish firms could see their credit ratings cut if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
“A no-deal Brexit would have negative credit implications and place increased pressure on Irish issuers,” S&P said. “However, we would only envisage rating actions for a small number of issuers, where rating performance is already somewhat challenged.”