Traders await Brexit vote as another resignation rocks UK Government

Gareth Johnson become the 13th member of Theresa May’s government to resign today. He said he was unable to support the PrimeMinister’s Brexit deal. Credit Wki Commons

The 13th resignation from Theresa May’s government has added to her administration’s woes on the eve of the meaningful Brexit vote that will take place tomorrow. May said that if the House of Commons rejects her deal then it will increase the chances of no Brexit.

Assistant whip Gareth Johnson said he could not support May’s strategy and that he resigned to oppose tomorrow night’s vote on the withdrawal agreement. If May’s withdrawal bill is voted down then businesses across Britain and Europe will suffer further uncertainty with the next steps in the discussions unclear.

However, May has continued to try and rally support for the agreement. In a speech at a factory in Stoke today she stated, “It’s now my judgement that the more likely outcome is that a paralysis in Parliament risks there being no Brexit. That makes it even more important that MPs [members of Parliament] consider how they will vote tomorrow night.”

At least if the country remains in the European Union (EU) there will be consistency in the regulations and customs rules for those using the ferry services in Ireland and across the Channel between Dover and Calais. But opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that should Parliament reject the Government’s withdrawal deal the Labour Party will table a vote of “no confidence” in the May government. This vote is unlikely to succeed as the Conservative Party has the most seats in Parliament, but it does not have an absolute majority of the seats. Corbyn’s hope is that Tory MPs will join the opposition to the government.

A failure of Parliament to decide on the form of the withdrawal from the EU could mean that support for another referendum could increase, with Members of Parliament concluding that the House of Commons cannot decide on the issue. That view was boosted by the moves over the weekend by some MPs to wrest control of the parliamentary agenda from May, in what one newspaper called “A very British coup.” The move by MPs is meant to ensure that a “no deal Brexit” cannot occur.

The MPs move came after Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, tabled an amendment to the government’s agenda that was agreed to in Parliament last week that requires the government to return with an alternative plan within three days of tomorrow’s vote, rather than the 21 days that was originally allotted.

Meanwhile, the presidents of the European Commission and European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, have rejected plans to put a time-limit of a year on the Irish backstop. Instead, they offered to review the backstop plan every six months if it is enforced, and to look at new technologies that could facilitate a free Irish border.

These assurances from the EU are not enough to persuade the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the party from Northern Ireland that is keeping May in power. The DUP has said its 12 Members of Parliament will vote against the deal as will the hard Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs. Britain’s Press Association estimates suggest that May could lose the crucial vote by more than 100 votes.

With Parliament in disarray and the uncertainty of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, some shippers in the pharmaceutical and automotive industries are reportedly taking matters into their own hands and are looking to charter freight aircraft to ensure that their supply chains remain in place and supplies for their production lines remain in place.

However, one air cargo expert said that in the main the enquiries were coming from forwarders that are already familiar with using air freight services.

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Nick Savvides, Staff Writer

Nick came to FreightWaves in December 2018 from Fairplay, a shipping market publication. He covers the shipping, freight and logistics industry in Europe. Since starting his career as a journalist in 1990, Nick has worked for a number of significant freight publications abroad, including International Freighting Weekly, the online news service for Containerisation International, ICIS, the chemical industry reporting service, as well as Seatrade in Greece. Nick also worked as a freelance journalist writing for Lloyd’s List, The Observer, The Express and The European newspapers among others before joining Seatrade Newsweek in Athens.