The Brexit deadline looms

February 2019

The UK ended February with the question of Brexit still unanswered. The month was dominated by political newsflow as concerns over Brexit were compounded by the resignation of eleven MPs who left the Conservative or Labour parties to form “The Independent Group”. A second “meaningful vote” on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal will take place on 12 March. 

  • The Brexit deadline might be delayed
  • The UK economy grew by only 1.4% in 2018
  • The Government assessed the impact of a “no-deal” Brexit

To view the series of market updates through February, click here


The UK ended February with the question of Brexit still unanswered. The month was dominated by political newsflow as concerns over Brexit were compounded by the resignation of eleven MPs who left the Conservative or Labour parties to form “The Independent Group”. A second “meaningful vote” on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal will take place on 12 March. If the Government is defeated, MPs will face a vote on whether they support a “no-deal” Brexit; if this vote is rejected, the Government will take steps to move the 29 March Brexit deadline to the end of June at the latest. 

“The BCC complained that businesses are being “hung out to dry””

The Government released its evaluation of the implications of a no-deal Brexit on business and trade. The report said that there was “little evidence” that companies are “preparing in earnest’ for no deal, and warned of the possibility of disruption to food supplies from the EU. 30% of the UK’s food comes from the EU and, under a no-deal scenario, some food prices are expected to rise and there is a risk that “consumer behaviour could exacerbate, or create, shortages”. Meanwhile, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) complained that businesses are being “hung out to dry” through a lack of “clear, actionable information from Government”. Elsewhere, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) warned that a no-deal Brexit would be “an unforgivable act of economic and social self-harm”.

Although UK equity markets ended February in positive territory, their rise was relatively muted compared with other major markets. The FTSE 100 Index rose by 1.5% over the month, while the FTSE 250 Index climbed by 2.5%.

The UK economy achieved its slowest annual rate of growth since 2012 during 2018, expanding by only 1.4%. The annualised rate of consumer price inflation fell from 2.1% in December to 1.8% in January, reaching its lowest level for two years. The drop was caused primarily by lower utility prices. Average earnings (excluding bonuses) rose at an annualised rate of 3.4% in December; in real terms, they rose by 1.2%.

Retail sales rallied in January, climbing by 1% month on month, and rising at an annualised rate of 4.2%. Sales were boosted by discounting on clothes. During February, fashion retailers Ted Baker and Laura Ashley issued profit warnings and Laura Ashley subsequently became the subject of a possible takeover bid.

Get In Touch

Find Us On Map