Sterling opened lower in Asian trading on Monday as Saturday’s vote on Prime Minister’s Brexit withdrawal agreement was delayed. Instead, MP’s backed a motion tabled by Oliver Letwin to withhold Commons approval until the necessary UK legislation to leave the European Union had been passed through Parliament.
The Letwin amendment, which intends to rule out a no-deal Brexit by forcing the PM to request an extension to article 50 from the EU, was passed by 322 votes to 306. Critically, the DUP were amongst those that voted against the government citing their concerns over a customs border in the Irish sea.
On Saturday evening, Boris relented on his own claims that he would avoid requesting a Brexit extension and sent two letters to the EU. The first, an unsigned letter requesting a Brexit extension. The second, a letter outlining his reasons for not wanting a Brexit delay. The President of the European Council Donald Tusk later acknowledged receipt of the extension request and stated that he will begin ‘consulting EU leaders on how to react’.
Despite the success of the Letwin amendment, the UK government remain optimistic of securing a Brexit deal. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that he was confident the government ‘have the numbers’ to pass the deal through Parliament.
The leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg stated on Saturday that the government will plan to hold a meaningful vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal as early as Monday. However, it will be up to Speaker John Bercow to decide whether to allow the vote.