Boris, Brexit and the British Pound

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Boris Johnson has said he hopes his party's "extraordinary" election win will bring "closure" to the Brexit debate and "let the healing begin". He said he would not ignore those who opposed Brexit as he builds with Europe a partnership "of sovereign equals".

The Tories have had a storming win with a Commons majority of 80, the party's largest since 1987. The Conservatives obliterated Labour in its traditional spots in the Midlands and the north of England, while holding off the Liberal Democrats in the south of England.

Speaking outside No 10, Mr Johnson thanked loyal Labour supporters who deserted Jeremy Corbyn's in droves, saying he would fulfil his pledge to take the UK out of the EU on 31st  January. Talks about a future trade and security relationship will begin almost immediately. 

UK stocks and the pound rocketed higher after Boris Johnson secured an election victory that clears the way for Britain to quickly leave the European Union.

  • The benchmark FTSE 100 gained 1.5% in early trading.
  • The FTSE 250 index of midsize British companies rallied more than 4%.
  • The pound strengthened nearly 2% to $1.34, its highest level since May 2018. 
  • The pound rose 1.3% against the euro.

While many FTSE 100 shares saw big gains, this was offset by the rise in the value of the pound, which naturally affects companies with foreign revenues. The FTSE 250 contains firms with more exposure to the domestic economy, so the gains were more pronounced.

The election also dashed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's hopes of transforming the UK economy through a spree of radical left-wing policies that scared the business community. He wanted the nationalisation of major utilities with tax rises for companies and higher earners.

Politically sensitive shares benefitted such as water company Severn Trent, which faced leftist nationalisation and rose 9%. UK housebuilders also saw large rallies, with Barratt and Persimmon up 14% and 12% respectively. Lloyds, Barclays and RBS were also up 5%, 6% and 8% respectively.

We believe, in the short term, this should be positive for business confidence. However, a lot can change over the coming months as the talks begin. If trade negotiations don’t pan out, the UK could still leave the EU without a deal at the end of 2020.

Whether the pound will hold its gains, is also a matter of hot debate. The UK is not out of the woods yet and future relationship uncertainty with the European Union may have some dampening effects as we pull into the New Year.