ETF Securities Research Blog

Article 50 trigger delayed by Parliament debate

The Supreme Court has upheld the High Court’s decision that requires the UK Parliament to vote to trigger Article 50 in order to invoke the two-year negotiation timeline to exit the EU. Brexit is still likely to happen, but is likely to be delayed by a government debate on whether and when to trigger it.

Today’s Supreme Court decision was widely anticipated, with GBP rebounding in recent days from its post-EU Referendum lows. UK Prime Minister May appears to have been resigned to the fact that the UK Parliament would have some say in the Brexit outcome, after last week indicating that lawmakers would vote on the final Brexit framework. However, the Supreme Court decision is another blow to the PM, who has taken a hard line in trying to implement what she terms ‘the will of the people’. We now expect the Government to table an extremely short Bill into Parliament with the aim of retaining its March deadline – however it is widely expected that pro-European MPs and Lords are expected to table amendments in an effort to either delay the process or bind the Government to specific negotiating positions. Most notably, a Labour spokesperson has confirmed that the Opposition will seek to amend the Bill to “build in the principles of full, tariff-free access to the single market.”

The one highlight for Prime Minister May is that the devolved Parliaments do not need to be consulted for triggering Article 50.

The free movement of people and EU budget contributions were also both critical determinants for the UK voters in deciding to leave the EU. Although these will remain two of the main goals for the Conservatives, it remains to be seen who the UK Government will be negotiating with, with many elections on the continent over the next two years. Indeed, the German Socialists have lost the EU Parliament Presidency which could potentially split the Parliament and make any Brexit negotiations with the UK more messy and acrimonious if they take a hostile position against the current Italian European People’s Party President.

Nonetheless, we expect the Pound will remain supported in the near-term, as negotiations begin and investors gain an understanding of the underlying issues and the timeframe for the exit process. A ‘hard Brexit’ is not our favoured scenario, but Sterling is likely to remain volatile and range bound in trading in 2017, as details of the Government’s negotiations with the EU trickle through to the public. Although range bound, investors will have plenty of opportunity to get exposure to the Pound, as it is likely to trade in a wide range – from 1.21-1.27 against the US Dollar in 2017.