The pound has jumped to highs last seen in June 2018 after Parliament rejected a no-deal Brexit and investors saw less risk of a disorderly exit from the European Union (The BBC). The pound has fallen backwards following a big leap as MPs voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit (Sky News). Sterling was back under pressure on Thursday, with the pound unable to hold the full extent of the gains it made after the UK parliament voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit (The Financial Times £).
Business leaders voiced exasperation over the state of Brexit negotiations last night as expectations rose of a delay and fears grew over the impact of tariff changes should Britain depart the European Union without a deal. (The Times £)
Markets are highly sensitive to uncertainty. But reaction to the second defeat for the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal has been remarkably benign, writes The Mail’s Alex Brummer. There is a conviction that if the UK can achieve an agreed departure from the EU there is not much to worry about. (The Daily Mail)
The chancellor says the economy remains “remarkably resilient” in the face of a “cloud of Brexit uncertainty” - despite a sharp cut to growth forecasts (Sky News). The economy is braced for its weakest growth since the financial crisis in 2009 as businesses slash investment until they know what is happening with Brexit. GDP will grow by just 1.2% this year, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts, down from October’s prediction of 1.6% (The Telegraph). The chancellor has pledged to spend a £26.6bn Brexit war chest to boost the economy, if MPs vote to leave the European Union with a deal (The BBC). Philip Hammond has promised a Brexit dividend to boost spending on public infrastructure projects and vital services, after forecasts of lower government borrowing over the next five years swelled the chancellor’s war chest to £26.6bn (The Guardian).
The most crucial number in the Spring Statement was £26.6bn. That’s the amount of headroom the chancellor will have in 2020-21 against his “fiscal mandate” - his borrowing target - as a result of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s revisions to its borrowing forecasts. (Sky News)
Yesterday’s Spring Statement told us little about the economy, but a lot about the politics of Brexit, writes The Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner. “Luckily for the Chancellor, the economy seems to be running on tram lines right now, notwithstanding the uncertainties of Brexit.”
Philip Hammond, the chancellor, promised a Brexit “deal dividend” in his Spring Statement, [but] the future of the UK will depend on the way that Brexit either solves or exacerbates the problems the country has faced for the past two decades - stagnant wages, lagging productivity, lower than average spending on research and development, falling business investment, a financial sector that has been fuelling itself rather than growth in the real economy, and a focus on share prices rather than long-term growth. (The Financial Times)
By now, one might have thought, the Brexit smog would be so thick that UK plc would be choking, says Alex Brummer in The Mail. “The extraordinary thing is that, in spite of the dire warnings from business organisations and car firms about the impact of leaving the European Union on growth, jobs and prosperity, the economy refuses to roll over and die.” (The Daily Mail)
The boss of Morrison’s has hailed its “simple and pragmatic enough” turnaround strategy for delivering another year of rising sales and profits and a further special dividend for shareholders (The Times £). Morrisons has signalled its confidence in its turnaround by handing shareholders their third special dividend in a year after reporting rising sales, despite customers becoming more “savvy and cautious” (The Telegraph). Morrisons has dished out its third special dividend of the year to shareholders, as it ploughs ahead with its turnaround plan and enjoys growth across its wholesale arm (The Daily Mail).
Sales of painkillers and toilet rolls have picked up ahead of Brexit, according to supermarket chain Morrisons, in what appeared to be stockpiling among consumers (The Financial Times £). Shoppers have begun stockpiling toilet rolls and painkillers ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit, according to Morrisons (The Guardian).
British American Tobacco’s Canadian subsidiary has been granted creditor protection, giving the unit a temporary reprieve after a Quebec court judgment had held the industry liable for a maximum of C$13.6bn ($10.2bn). (The Financial Times £)
The collapse of Patisserie Valerie may have left Luke Johnson a chastened man but it hasn’t stopped him doing deals. Small Batch Coffee, a Brighton-based chain of seven coffee shops in which he acquired a majority stake in 2015, has been sold. (The Times £)
Coca-Cola has revealed for the first time it produces 3m tonnes of plastic packaging a year – equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute – as a report calls on other global companies to end the secrecy over their plastic footprint. (The Guardian)