A company's office building is shown at Canary Wharf in London, England, where much of the city's finance industry is located. Picture: 123RF/ MELINDA NAGY
A company's office building is shown at Canary Wharf in London, England, where much of the city's finance industry is located. Picture: 123RF/ MELINDA NAGY

London — Eleventh-hour warnings on the financial fallout of a no-deal Brexit and a cap on trading in pounds — British business on Tuesday braced itself for the UK parliament’s vital vote.

“As MPs prepare to vote on the government’s Brexit deal, we urge them to remember they hold the future of the British automotive industry — and the hundreds and thousands of jobs it supports —in their hands,” said the Mike Hawes, CEO of UK car industry body the SMMT.

“Brexit is already causing us damage — in output, costs and jobs, but this does not compare with the catastrophic consequences of being cut adrift from our biggest trading partner overnight,” he added in a statement.

“Both government and parliament have a responsibility to take no-deal off the table or risk destroying this vital UK industry,” Hawes urged.

Few expect the deal to pass, but the scale of Prime Minister Theresa May’s expected defeat in parliament on Tuesday could determine whether she tries again, loses office, delays Brexit — or if Britain even leaves the EU at all.

With just over two months to go until the scheduled Brexit date of March 29, a bitterly divided Britain is in limbo and the world awaits to see what will happen next.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the president of the CBI, Britain’s largest business lobby group, said the “vast majority” of UK business would like to see the Brexit deal passed.

Talking on BBC radio, John Allan said that even though it “looks extremely unlikely” that parliament will back the deal, the government must be immediately ready to preside over a no-deal Brexit.

This is “a time for very, very, clear leadership from the government and the time to bring people together”, Allan said.

“This will be a situation of national emergency. We are only 70-plus days from crashing out of the EU.”

Allan added that the UK “crashing out” of the EU on March 29 without a deal “would do irreparable harm to the UK economy”.

Also on Tuesday, foreign exchange group TransferWise said it was putting a 24-hour cap on sterling transactions above £10,000.

“It’s possible that the vote on the prime minister’s deal could have a significant impact on the foreign exchange market and so we are taking sensible precautions,” the company said in a statement.

“We’ll be capping the amount of money transfers to and from British pounds at £10,000. These temporary transfer limits mean 99% of our customers will benefit from our usual service.

“For the 1% affected, we’d suggest they make their transfer later in the week, or set up multiple smaller payments,” it added.

AFP