'We are staring down the barrel': Reactions to PM Theresa May's Brexit deal defeat

LONDON (REUTERS) – European Union leaders said they would step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit and British business groups reacted with alarm after British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal by a crushing margin on Tuesday (Jan 15).

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY

“It is clear that the House does not support this deal. But tonight”s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. Nothing about how – or even if – it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum Parliament decided to hold.”

EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER

“The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote.”

OPPOSITION LABOUR LEADER JEREMY CORBYN

“This is a catastrophic defeat for this government. After two years of failed negotiations, the House of Commons has delivered its verdict on her Brexit deal and that verdict is absolutely decisive.”

PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL DONALD TUSK

“If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”

BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER CHARLES MICHEL

“While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared.”

GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER AND VICE CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ

“This is a bitter day for Europe. We are well prepared – but a hard Brexit would be the least attractive choice, for the EU and GB (Great Britain),”

CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY

“Every business will feel no deal is hurtling closer. A new plan is needed immediately. This is now a time for our politicians to make history as leaders.”

GERMAN AUTO INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION VDA

“With today’s decision the majority of parliament has done its country a disservice. Now an uncontrolled Brexit is more likely. The consequences of a ‘no deal’ would be fatal.”

UK AUTO INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION SMMT

“Leaving the EU, our biggest and most important trading partner, without a deal and without a transition period to cushion the blow would put this sector and jobs at immediate risk.”

UK MANUFACTURING ASSOCIATION EEF

“Parliament’s pantomime now continues while business suffers impossible uncertainty which will only worsen investment and the worrying business climate.”

INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS

“It is the collective failure of our political leaders that, with only a few weeks to go, we are staring down the barrel of no deal.

“As things stand, UK law says we will leave on 29th March, with or without a withdrawal agreement, and yet MPs are behaving as though they have all the time in the world – how are businesses meant to prepare in this fog of confusion?”

BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

“There are no more words to describe the frustration, impatience, and growing anger amongst business after two and a half years on a high-stakes political rollercoaster ride that shows no sign of stopping.”

MARKET REACTION

Sterling rebounded smartly from the day’s lows and rallied more than a cent to stand above US$1.28 after British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal by a crushing margin on Tuesday.

UBS WEALTH MANAGEMENT

“UK assets will continue to be vulnerable to the political volatility and we don’t expect this will subside until a concrete conclusion emerges.

“We do not advocate investors take directional views on sterling, gilts or UK stocks while this clarity void remains so large. Within existing portfolios, investors would be wise to limit any UK exposure at benchmark levels.”

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