02 Mar 2017

Brexit: How Long Before The Waiting is Over?

Brexit is coming. But still no one knows when.

Last night the UK’s upper house, House of Lords, with 358 to 256, voted for correction of the proposed Brexit bill that will protect the rights of more than 3 million EU citizens currently living in Britain. The vote now will send back the bill to the lower House of Commons for more discussions which will mean that Theresa May won’t be able to respond to the EU invitation to send a summon letter by 9 March.

Early in February it was agreed that the negotiations between the EU and UK will start on the first of April with a possible date of 6-7 April.

The vote last night split the experts’ opinion. Some believe that despite the vote, Theresa May plans for triggering Article 50 by the end of March will not change.  According to government sources, she said to her MPs: “It is, indeed, my plan to trigger by the end of March”.

On the other side, some diplomats believe that the prime minister will wait until the Scottish nationalists finish their party conference on 18th March. The purpose is to deprive their leader Nicola Sturgeon of the chance to cause a stir by opposing the “hard Brexit” which May is expected to propose. If that happens, then the letter to the EU members will be postponed at least another week. According to unwritten rules of diplomacy, it will be in “bad taste” sending a letter around the 25th of March when the other 27 leaders will meet in Rome, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the EU’s foundation.

The uncertainty of the situation—when exactly will the two years’ negotiations start?—is increased by another possible defeat in House of Lords over giving parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal. Early this month Theresa May has confirmed that the vote will take place, still her opponents insist the promise will be officially documented.

The Chinese Good News

And while the tumble around the EU and UK divorce is weakening the pound, foreign investors are seeing that as a great possibility. Especially Chinese businessmen. The 14% drop of GBP to Chinese yuan resulted in many new Asian investments, as it was reported this morning.  Cheung Chung Kiu, CEO of C C Land Holdings Limited, one of the biggest Chinese property and constructing companies has bought the tallest London City skyscraper – the so-called “Cheesegrater”. The deal was sealed over £1.135 billion pounds, including £771 million in cash and £364 million as repayment of the seller’s loans.

With that deal, the UK has established itself as the second most important Chinese partner in Europe, after Germany.