Damage to trade persists despite May’s confidence vote win

Freight companies will be frustrated by the result of the vote of confidence in Theresa May as Brexit negotiations appear to have slipped back to square one.

Prime Minister May won the vote by 200 votes to 117, but the damage was essentially already done to the government’s deal when May cancelled the vote on the deal she had negotiated on Tuesday.

FreightWaves previously reported that European Shippers’ Council secretary general Godfried Smit believes that, “The confidence vote does not help as this will probably end up with a new Prime Minister from the brexiteer wing of the conservative party which will diminish the acceptance of the present proposal (Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU).”

Business leaders often say that they prefer bad news to uncertainty, because at least bad news can be accounted for.

But May’s victory does nothing to solve lingering questions over the final shape of Brexit, or whether there will even be a Brexit.

To the extent that any agreement or lack thereof creates bottlenecks in the shipping process, those can be solved at a cost. But without knowing the cost, many businesses either sit on the sidelines, delaying needed investment, or hedge their bets.

May has said that she will now go back to the European Council to speak to the European leaders to find a solution to the vexing issue of the border between Southern and Northern Ireland, even after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders have made it clear that these negotiations are now closed.

It is unclear from this point how the negotiations will develop. The UK now faces either crashing out of the EU without a deal, remaining in the EU or persuading EU member states to renegotiate a softer Brexit deal.

The result of vote of confidence in Theresa May has not, therefore, provided the clarity that business has been demanding.

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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.