Economists poll: Brexit to be put on ice, but only for a few months

Brexit to be put on ice, but only for a few months: economists

EXCERPT: . . . Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to rework the Brexit deal she agreed with EU leaders and has raised the possibility of a delay of the departure date until June.

All but three of 54 economists who answered an extra question in the Feb. 28-March 5 poll said the more than four-decade marriage between Britain and the EU would not be dissolved in a little over three weeks time as planned. Instead, there will be a brief extension, with over three-quarters saying it would be over before July.

[...] May reached a deal with the EU last year but it was resoundingly rejected by British lawmakers. However, she is hoping to win over enough of them to pass it by agreeing a legal addendum with the EU on the deal’s most controversial element.

A “backstop” to ensure no hard border between EU-member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland has been the major hurdle. But with lawmakers eager to avoid a potentially disorderly no-deal exit, an extension appears likely to try and resolve the issue.

The chance of a disorderly Brexit fell to 15 percent in the latest poll, its lowest since Reuters began asking the question in July 2017, down from the 25 percent it has hovered around. “It is clear that there is no majority in parliament for a “no-deal” Brexit,” said Howard Archer at EY ITEM Club....


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May's Brexit envoys struggle in Brussels

INTRO: British Prime Minister Theresa May's top government lawyer heads to Brussels in a last-ditch bid to secure changes to get her Brexit deal through parliament and smooth Britain's departure from the European Union. Britain is due to leave the EU in 24 days, but parliament's rejection of May's deal earlier this year has put in doubt how, when or possibly even if Britain's biggest foreign and trade policy shift in more than 40 years will take place.

May has charged her team, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay, with securing changes to the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to prevent a "hard border" between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland if a future trading relationship falls short.

Cox and Barclay will hold a 90-minute meeting with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier and other officials from the bloc on Tuesday, followed by further discussions over dinner. They are hoping to build on what May's team calls "progress" in talks to find a compromise that would rule out Britain leaving without a deal, a nightmare scenario for many businesses.

"We all want to leave at the end of this month and it depends how quickly we can get a deal through," foreign minister Jeremy Hunt told BBC radio, describing the situation as having been "transformed in a positive direction" over the last month. "Our ask of the EU is an important ask ... but it is one ask and it's a simple one. We need substantive changes that will allow the attorney general to change his advice to the government that says that, at the moment, theoretically, we could be trapped in the backstop indefinitely."


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UK May Scrap 80-90% of Import Duties in Case of No-Deal Brexit

INTRO: The United Kingdom may scrap 80-90 percent of all import tariffs in the event of the country's withdrawal from the European Union without an agreement, the Sky News broadcaster reported on Tuesday, citing government sources. According to the broadcaster, the relevant measures are set out in a document that will be published if UK Prime Minister Theresa May fails to win parliamentary support next week during a vote on an agreement on Brexit terms. The cancellation of import tariffs may become an unpleasant surprise for many UK producers and farmers, however, the government does not intend to abolish tariffs on imports of cars, beef, lamb, dairy products, as well as a number of textile industry goods.

Such a "radical blueprint" is intended to prevent a strong increase in commodity prices and at the same time signal that UK economy will remain "open" and "liberal" even after the country's withdrawal from the EU, the broadcaster said. The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the block on March 29 but has not secured a withdrawal agreement yet. The UK parliament rejected May's Brexit deal in January by a record majority of 230. Last week, lawmakers agreed to have another vote on the Brexit terms by mid-March, with an option to delay the exit altogether if both the new deal and a no-deal scenario were rejected.


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