The Brexit political frenzy has hit a lull thanks to Westminster summer recess. Thank the Lord!
This slumber is about to end with one hell of a bang later this week, however, with the release of scores of government papers explaining how a no-deal departure would affect our British way of life. The first of 84 papers is to be unveiled on Thursday and will clarify how a broad range of issues, from workplace rights and food labelling, to financial services and commercial road haulage, would be affected.
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Get ready for a shock
Speculation that Britain is in danger of ‘sleepwalking’ into a no-deal scenario shouldn’t really come as a surprise given the complexities of the divorce with the EU, not to mention the emotionally-charged nature of the debate, which is causing paralysis and conflict inside Theresa May’s cabinet.
Indeed, the latest odds from betting comparison website Oddchecker on the chances of the UK tumbling out of the EU without an agreement have shortened in recent days. The latest odds on no Brexit deal being agreed before April 1 2019 now stand at 4/6, falling from 2/1 less than a week ago.
Not a done deal, though
The chances of a second referendum happening before next April, however — currently 3/1 according to Oddschecker — are still very much alive. Hope is not yet extinguished that Britain can avoid a catastrophic exit.
Latest polling data last week from YouGov showed that 48% of respondents to the question of a so-called People’s Vote now demand a final say on the deal that the prime minister negotiates with Brussels. This compares with 31% who oppose the idea.
Still, the chances of Britain staying in the European bloc through another referendum remain pretty slim. Both the Conservative and Labour hierarchies remain vehemently opposed to holding a second poll, of course. And latest data on possible voting intentions show that neither the Leave nor Remain camps can be sure of victory.
FTSE 100 vs FTSE 250
So how can investors prepare themselves for the possibility of a painful exit from the EU?
Well, those that are exposed to the FTSE 250 may take a hit given that, broadly speaking, London’s second-tier index is more domestically-geared than the FTSE 100. Indeed, the diverse geographic footprint of many of the Footsie’s constituents, allied with the possible currency tailwinds in the event of further sterling slides, may make it a safer destination for the months ahead.
But that is not to say that Footsie investors are safe, of course. I’ve long argued about the danger that banks like RBS and Lloyds face should UK politicians remain committed to Brexit, but they are not the only firms in jeopardy — retailers like Tesco and Next, housebuilders like The Berkeley Group and airlines such as easyJet are just a handful of stocks that could see their earnings taking a whack.
The most important thing to remember as investors, though, is not to panic and sell up once the going gets tough. Heck, the possible financial market turbulence created by Brexit may actually offer up some excellent long-term investment opportunities. Stock investing is still the most effective way to make your money work for you in the long term. Just be careful and make sure to do plenty of research before taking the leap. You won’t look back.