September 9, 2019 / 3:07 PM / 9 days ago

Brexit to be delayed, chance of no-deal departure holds at 35% - economists

LONDON (Reuters) - Brexit will be delayed again, according to a Reuters poll of economists that continued to put the chance of Britain and the European Union parting ways without agreeing a deal at 35%, despite the UK parliament attempting to block a no-deal exit.

A tourist double-decker bus drives past flags hanged by pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster in London, Britain, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he wanted a Brexit deal on Oct. 18, just two weeks before the two sides are due to part ways, but has repeatedly said Britain will dissolve the more than four-decade long marriage on Oct. 31, with or without a withdrawal agreement.

Yet all but three of the 35 respondents to an extra question said the scheduled departure date - already delayed - would be extended again, most likely to January.

“Johnson said that he’d rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than delay Brexit, but we don’t believe that for a second,” said Stefan Koopman at Rabobank.

Lawmakers passed a bill last week requiring Johnson to ask EU leaders for a further Brexit delay if Parliament - which is being shut by the government on Monday - has not passed a Brexit deal or voted in favour of no-deal by October 19.

There is a 35% chance of no deal being agreed, a so-called disorderly Brexit, according to the median forecast in a Sept. 5-9 Reuters poll, unchanged from an August poll which was the highest since Reuters began asking the question two years ago.

Forecasts ranged from 10% to 60%.

Still, a strong majority of economists still say the two sides will eventually settle on a free trade deal, as they have said since late 2016 when Reuters first started asking about the most likely outcome.

In second place, again, was the more extreme option of leaving without a deal and trading under World Trade Organization rules.

The third most likely outcome was Britain remaining a member of the European Economic Area, paying into the EU budget to maintain access to the Single Market yet having no say over policy. Fourth place once again went to cancelling Brexit.

RECESSION AVERTED?

Britain’s economy picked up more than expected in July, official data showed on Monday, dampening fears it will succumb to its first recession since the financial crisis as the Brexit crisis escalates.

“We had been concerned over the risk of a contraction in GDP, which given the 0.2% decline in Q2, would have meant a technical recession. This looks very unlikely now,” said Philip Shaw at Investec.

The world’s fifth-biggest economy shrank in the second quarter, a hangover from a stockpiling boom in advance of the original March 31 Brexit deadline, but is expected to expand 0.2% this quarter and next, the poll showed.

Growth will accelerate to 0.3% per quarter for all of next year, it predicted.

The probability of a recession within a year held steady at 35%. The likelihood of one in the next two years fell to 35% from 40%.

With inflation forecast to hover around the Bank of England’s 2% target, no change in Bank Rate from 0.75% was expected until at least 2022, the end of the forecast horizon.

None of the 54 economists polled thought the Monetary Policy Committee would alter borrowing costs when they announce their latest decision on Sept. 19.

Polling by Khushboo Mittal and Manjul Paul; Editing by Ross Finley and Pravin Char

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