June 20, 2018 / 7:48 AM / 8 months ago

Daily Briefing: May faces Brexit rebels

LONDON (Reuters) - It looks as though British PM Theresa May will finally face pro-EU rebels in her party head-on today after rejecting their call for parliament to have a greater say in the Brexit process and pushing ahead with a vote on her own, much watered-down proposal.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators wave EU flags opposite the Houses of Parliament, June 19, 2018

May risks defeat if just a handful of Conservatives vote against her offer to parliament of a simple statement setting out what she will do if she fails to negotiate an agreement with the EU, or if lawmakers reject any deal she returns with from Brussels.

That, the rebels say, would leave parliament toothless. The opposition Labour Party has urged its lawmakers to vote against the government, calling today a last chance to secure a meaningful parliamentary vote on Brexit.

In one shape or form, much of European politics today is about immigration. After France's Emmanuel Macron signalled after talks with Angela Merkel yesterday that Europe needed to think again about how it manages the issue, those pushing for an altogether tougher approach have arranged a series of huddles ahead of next week's European Union summit.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his government hold what is being billed as a "joint cabinet meeting" with Bavarian State Prime Minister Markus Soeder of the CSU in the town of Linz. And later in the day, Italy's new interior minister, the far-right leader Matteo Salvini, meets his Austrian counterpart Herbert Kickl and vice-chancellor Heinz Christian Strache.

Separately, Hungary’s parliament is expected to pass today a controversial bill criminalising help to illegal immigrants despite widespread condemnation from human rights groups and others.

Under the law, anyone who helps migrants not entitled to protection to submit requests for asylum or who help illegal migrants gain status to stay in Hungary will be liable to jail. It's been dubbed "Stop Soros" by critics because it targets NGOs funded by the financier and liberal campaigner.


World markets have stabilised after Tuesday’s withering lurch lower on the latest salvos in the U.S.-China trade war, with signs of Chinese market support and speculation about some monetary policy easing there helping a rebound in Shanghai.

Eyes also revert to Sintra in Portugal, where the European Central Bank’s annual conference sees the world’s three most powerful central bankers – Federal Reserve chair Powell, ECB chief Draghi and Bank of Japan governor Kuroda – all speaking later on Wednesday.

But Asia markets’ bounce set the early tone. Shanghai closed 0.3 percent higher after Tuesday’s 3.8 percent plunge, with speculation of a possible cut in banks reserve requirement ratios rife while some 30 firms announced share purchase plans from major shareholders. The relief was more evident on other regional bourses, where blue-chip indices in HK, Tokyo and Seoul all rallied about one percent.

Wall St and European stock futures also pointed to modest bouncebacks, after the Dow Jones and MSCI world index moved into negative territory for the year on Tuesday. Emerging market stock indices, which lost almost 2 percent on Tuesday, recaptured about 0.5 percent of that too. U.S. 10-year Treasury yields nudged higher, although the 2-10 yield curve slipped to a new near 11-year low of 34 basis points.

Oil prices were slightly higher ahead of Friday’s OPEC meeting.  European shares are expected to open higher, helped by reassuring news of a Franco-German deal on the future of the euro zone. The dollar stabilised against a broad basket of its rivals after hitting a 11-month high overnight.

Sterling is on the back foot as UK PM  May faces a showdown with rebels in her Conservative Party on Wednesday.  Some calm returned to emerging markets currencies after China fixed a stronger than expected midpoint, prompting the offshore CNY to step away from 5-month lows.

— A look at the day ahead from European Economics and Politics Editor Mark John and EMEA markets editor Mike Dolan. The views expressed are their own —

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