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Macron relaxes extension stance, Lib Dems offer lifeline

The EU is close to extending the Brexit deadline to give the UK time to ratify a withdrawal agreement.

Centtrip: Macron relaxes extension stance, Lib Dems offer lifeline

EU leaders are on the cusp of signing off a Brexit extension to 31 January 2020 after French President Emmanuel Macron gave up his demand for a shorter delay. The postponement will give the UK Parliament more time to debate the latest Brexit deal and would allow for an early general election, if Prime Minister Boris Johnson can convince enough MPs to back it.

The opposition Labour Party appears to be highly unlikely to support an election and would probably oppose when voting gets under way tonight, 28 October. As the government will bring the motion, a two-thirds parliamentary majority would be required under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

However, the Liberal Democrats, along with the Scottish National Party, handed Johnson a lifeline by proposing a general election on 9 December, as long as the European Union extends Article 50 and the prime minister promises to adhere to the extension – effectively taking no deal off the table. The motion, which will be brought for a vote by opposition parties, would require a simple majority and is likely to be passed.

Meanwhile, a poll by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has found that consumer confidence in the UK has fallen to its lowest level in six years. People are growing increasingly anxious about job security and the value of their homes. The survey fell from 103.8 in September to 102.8 this month, getting closer to the 100 barrier that separates positive sentiment from negative.

It is the third straight month of decline, which , as we head towards Christmas, is a real worry for the British high street. With Parliament in deadlock, retailers will hope that a resolution on Brexit comes sooner rather than later.

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