LONDON (Reuters) – The likelihood Britain and the European Union part ways without a deal has jumped in the past month, according to economists in a Reuters poll, as most candidates jockeying to take over as prime minister appear to have adopted a hard line stance.
FILE PHOTO: European Union and British flags flutter in front of a chancellery ahead of a visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Three years on since Britons voted to leave the EU, there is still little clarity as to how, when or even if the two sides will draw a line under Britain’s four-decades of membership.
Theresa May, still holding the country’s top job but who has failed to get her Withdrawal Agreement ratified by Britain’s parliament, announced last month she was quitting and there are numerous contenders vying to replace her.
Boris Johnson, a former foreign minister and the bookmakers’ favourite to take over, kicked off his official leadership campaign on Wednesday with a pledge to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 no matter what happens.
Johnson has said he would be willing to leave the bloc without a deal, and the median forecast for the chance of a disorderly Brexit jumped to 25% in the June 11-14 Reuters poll from the 15% given in May.
“The possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit appears to have risen,” said Howard Archer at EY ITEM Club.
“Many of the contenders looking to replace May as leader of the Conservatives and prime minister have stressed that the UK must leave the EU on Oct. 31 – ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’.”
British lawmakers on Wednesday defeated an attempt led by the opposition Labour Party to try to block a no-deal Brexit.