Brexit

Goldman Sachs expects Brexit talks to go right down to the wire

Key Points
  • With six weeks to go before the U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU, the political and economic future of the world's fifth-largest economy remains as uncertain as ever.
  • Goldman Sachs said it estimated the probability of a "no-deal" Brexit at around 15 percent, the likelihood of a ratified Brexit deal at around 50 percent and the chance of "no Brexit" at all at around 35 percent.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves from 10 Downing Street in London on January 29, 2019, to head to the House of Commons.
ADRIAN DENNIS | AFP | Getty Images

Britain's embattled Prime Minister Theresa May is running down the clock with Brexit talks, Goldman Sachs said on Friday.

With six weeks to go before the U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU, the political and economic future of the world's fifth-largest economy remains as uncertain as ever.

That's because unless May can get a Brexit deal approved by a majority of U.K. lawmakers over the coming weeks, she will either have to ask the bloc to delay the process or thrust the country into chaos by leaving without a deal.

"In our view, the Prime Minister will repeatedly try to defer the definitive parliamentary vote on her negotiated Brexit deal, and the intensification of tail risks will continue to play a role in incentivising the eventual ratification of that deal in a divided House of Commons," Goldman said in a note to clients on Friday.

No majority for second referendum — yet

On Thursday, British lawmakers voted down May's approach to Brexit talks. It marked another humiliating defeat for a prime minister battling to overcome deep parliamentary divisions.

The defeat has no legal force for Downing Street and the U.K. government has said May would not change her negotiating strategy with the bloc.

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Where did Brexit come from?

Uncertainty over Brexit has rumbled on for almost three years, rattling financial markets. Business and consumer sentiment has also deteriorated amid heightened fears about the prospect of a disorderly Brexit from the EU that could damage the economy.

"There does exist a majority in the House of Commons willing to avoid a "no-deal" Brexit (if called upon to do so), but there does not yet exist a majority in the House of Commons willing to support a second referendum (at least at this stage)," the bank added.

The U.S. investment bank said it estimated the probability of a "no-deal" Brexit at around 15 percent, the likelihood of a ratified Brexit deal at around 50 percent and the chance of "no Brexit" at all at around 35 percent.