This Week in Brexit: All eyes on mid-January vote

Brussels  – The onset of the holidays this week provided a lull in Brexit news across Europe. In Britain, the House of Commons is adjourned until January 6, even though Britain’s exit from the European Union is LESS THAN 100 DAYS away.

– The pace will pick up again on January 7, when parliament will resume debate on the widely panned withdrawal agreement that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government negotiated with Brussels. A vote will be scheduled the following week.

– In a sharp contrast to her country’s fractious Brexit debate, QUEEN ELIZABETH II used her annual Christmas Day address to call for “peace on earth and goodwill to all.”

Without specifically mentioning Brexit, she emphasized the need for civility between those with opposing views.

“Even with the most deeply-held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding,” said the queen, 92.

– In her CHRISTMAS MESSAGE, published Monday in the Daily Express, May also issued a call for unity while exhorting lawmakers to back the withdrawal agreement. The 585-page legal text was negotiated between London and Brussels to prevent Britain from crashing out of the EU without transitional arrangements.

“[The holidays are] a time when we find it within ourselves to put aside our differences and focus on what really matters,” wrote May.

“The sooner [parliamentarians] agree the right Brexit deal, the sooner we can all get back to dealing with those issues and building a country that works for everyone,” she added.

– Meanwhile, the scene in MARKETS ACROSS THE GLOBE was much more tumultuous, due in part to US President Donald Trump’s escalation of tensions with the Federal Reserve. But the growing prospect of a “no deal” Brexit was also a source of concern amid a darkening global economic outlook for 2019.

On Wednesday, for example, the INSTITUTE OF GERMAN BUSINESS reported that 21 out of 48 firms surveyed expected conditions to worsen in 2019, up from only two a year ago. Export-oriented companies were especially pessimistic.

Regarding Europe, the institute cited Brexit concerns – along with France’s “yellow vest” unrest and Italy’s fiscal woes – as top risks.

– The GERMAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY also reported a more muted forecast for 2019, citing Brexit jitters among its reasons.

On Monday, its president Eric Schweitzer told dpa he sees 500,000 additional jobs created, down from the 2018 forecast of 580,000.

“We do not see the acute danger of a recession,” he said. “But the air is getting thinner. We have rarely seen this much economic uncertainty.”