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Aug 8, 2016

Bloomberg | Brexit Bulletin - August 8, 2016: Can Lawsuits Derail Britain's Exit? By Emma Ross- Thomas

Emma Ross-Thomas

London's legal establishment was overwhelmingly against leaving the EU. The question is, can legal claims that have emerged since the referendum delay or even derail Britain's departure from the bloc? Bloomberg's Patrick Gower and Kit Chellel spoke to more than a dozen lawyers and judges to find out.

QuickTake Brexit's First Legal Challenge
The various lawsuits have been merged into a single claim that's likely to end up before the U.K. Supreme Court this year. The claimants want the nation’s highest court to rule that it would be illegal to invoke Article 50, triggering the two-year countdown to Brexit, without first holding a vote in parliament.

The case could pit the power of the judiciary against the authority of the prime minister in a manner never seen before in Britain.  Among potential outcomes: a lengthy delay as legal challenges play out; the risk—albeit slight—of jail for government ministers should they ignore the court’s orders; and even a parliament that’s forced to vote and ultimately rejects Brexit. It’s also possible the court will decide the government can invoke Article 50 whenever it chooses, with or without a vote.

Tech and Pharma Binge

U.K. technology and pharmaceutical companies accounted for almost 80 percent of the country's overall mergers-and-acquisitions volume last month. The companies have become targets as a weaker pound made their “intellectual assets” cheaper, while they're insulated from the local risks of Brexit as their innovations have the potential to spread globally.

Consumers Beat Brexit Blues

U.K. consumers spent more on clothes, meals out and day trips last month as warm weather in July gave Britons a break from the post-Brexit blues. Spending rose an annual 1.6 percent in July, according to card transaction data analyzed by Visa and Markit. That was up from June but still below the first-quarter average of 2.4 percent as Markit says consumer confidence remains “fragile.”
Business confidence fell to a three-year low in July, according to the Optimism Index run by consultancy BDO. Meanwhile a gauge of inflation rose and is expected to climb further in the coming months as the pound slumps.

Don't Blame Brexit

The prospect of companies ditching London because of Brexit has hit commercial property values, with one estimate showing prices fell the most since 2008 the month after the vote. But there's a bigger threat to prices and rents, UBS Group AG tells Bloomberg's Sharon Smyth, which is the wave of  office buildings under construction in London.
“We saw a build-up of oversupply of office space long before Brexit which can’t be stopped,” Thomas Wels, global head of real estate at the Zurich-based bank’s asset-management unit, said in an interview. The additional space “will hit the market in 2017 and 2018 and isn’t priced into rents.”

On the Markets

Asian equities climbed toward a one-year high and copper rallied after U.S. jobs data burnished sentiment toward the world’s largest economy. Crude traded near $42 a barrel amid a pickup in U.S. drilling and copper rebounded from a four-week low.  The pound moved little overnight.

And Finally...

Some consolation for Scotland, which was on the losing side in the referendum: whisky sales are booming. Bloomberg's Charlotte Ryan spoke to  whisky producers in Scotland, retailers in London and online merchants to report a “crazy spike” in sales.