Economic Outlook: Brexit Brief: The key dates and times in the week ahead

The British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Monday make a last-ditch effort to convince U.K. politicians to back the divisive Brexit deal she secured last year.

May will use a speech to warn parliamentarians that voting against her deal could ultimately stop the U.K. from leaving the European Union. She will also tell pro-European politicians that their efforts to thwart her deal do “catastrophic harm” to the British public’s faith in democracy.

It is widely expected that May will see her deal rejected in Tuesday’s landmark parliamentary vote, as politicians on both sides of the Brexit debate continue to oppose to its central tenets.

Pro-EU politicians are, meanwhile, reported to be preparing to take over the Brexit process in the event the deal is voted down, paving the way for a less complete exit from the bloc — or for Brexit to be halted altogether.

Sterling dropped from $1.28519 at 07:10 GMT to trade at $1.28248 at around 8.20am U.K. time, amid the continuing uncertainty.

Elsewhere, Financial News reports that London’s 10 biggest investment banks have spent more than £1bn preparing for the UK’s impending departure from the EU, sparking anger among City executives about the vast expense Brexit is causing business.

The week ahead for Brexit: What to watch out for…

Monday, Jan 14: Politicians enter a fourth day of debate on May’s Brexit deal. At around 3:30 p.m. U.K. time, the prime minister is expected to announce the arrival of a long-anticipated letter from Brussels, in which EU chiefs will reassure Westminster that efforts to avoid a so-called hard border in Ireland — the most contentious element of May’s deal — is only intended as a temporary measure.

Tuesday, Jan. 15: Politicians will conclude their five-day debate on the advantages and disadvantages of May’s preferred form of Brexit at around 7 p.m. Parliamentarians will then be given an opportunity to vote on politicians’ proposed amendments to the deal. The most controversial of these has been tabled by Hilary Benn, a member of the opposition Labour Party and chair of the House of Commons’ Brexit committee, who has proposed a motion to reject May’s deal and rule out crashing out of the EU. Should that win majority support, the official vote on May’s deal won’t go ahead.

Benn is under pressure from within his party to pull the amendment as it has the potential to offer No. 10 a face-saving defeat on May’s Brexit deal.

The landmark parliamentary vote on whether or not to sign May’s Brexit deal into U.K. law is scheduled to take place around 10:30 p.m. U.K. time. Most expected it to be rejected, with more than 100 Conservative politicians currently opposed to its terms.

Wednesday, Jan. 16: May is expected to give a statement to British politicians.

If her deal is rejected by only a small majority — perhaps fewer than 50 votes — she may state intentions to open a renegotiation with the EU. This would be done with a view to bringing further concessions back to the U.K. parliament and persuading enough politicians to back her in a second vote.

EU leaders have insisted that the deal already agreed is the only one on offer, and it won’t be changed. But they might allow tweaks to the text in such a situation.

May could also mention a possible extension of the two-year Brexit process — currently scheduled to end on March 29 — at this point. EU chiefs have indicated this is something they could support.

Sterling is predicted to drop around 2.3% from its current level of $1.28 against the dollar, if May loses the vote, according to a client survey by Japanese bank Nomura.

If May’s deal is unexpectedly approved, however, the pound is expected to surge 4.7% against the U.S. dollar, Nomura said.

Any time from Tuesday, Jan. 15: Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has indicated he could trigger a vote of no confidence in May’s government if the deal is rejected. That would require support from the majority of U.K. parliamentarians. If the support is there, May’s government could topple and the country could see a general election.

Corbyn and his deputies will want to wait for maximum chaos in parliament before tabling such a motion, to ensure it has the greatest chance of success. That moment could come as early as Tuesday evening.

Monday, Jan. 21: This is the deadline for May to present her plan B for Brexit, if her initial agreement is rejected.

Amid concern around the PM’s lack of planning for an alternative, pro-European politicians are reported to be plotting to hijack the Brexit process at this point in a bid to give EU-backing parliamentarians, and not May’s cabinet, greater control over the future direction of Brexit.

Such a move was made possible by a controversial decision last week by the speaker of the U.K. House of Commons, John Bercow, who allowed Conservative politicians from outside the government to make changes to its plans.

For any coup to work, however, Bercow would have to suspend a parliamentary procedure, first implemented in the 1880s, which dictates that government business must always take precedent in the House of Commons.

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