London share prices were higher this morning ahead of another round of votes in Parliament aimed at breaking the deadlock over Brexit.
Both the blue-chip FTSE 100 index and the FTSE 250, which is more reflective of domestic British businesses, showed modest gains.
Sterling was higher against the US dollar but lost ground against the euro.
“Worst example of ill-discipline”
MPs will vote later today on various options for ending the Parliamentary stalemate over Brexit. The UK has an agreement with the European Union governing the terms of its departure from the 28-nation bloc, but this has been rejected by MPs three times.
As Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said patience with Britain was running out, Julian Smith, chief whip for the governing Conservative Party tore into Cabinet colleagues for disloyal behaviour.
He said recent events had shown the “worst example of ill-discipline in Cabinet in British political history”.
In breach of the normal doctrine of collective responsibility, Cabinet members have repeatedly broken ranks and criticised each other’s positions.
But this may pale compared with the growing possibility of a constitutional crisis in the wake of today’s “indicative” votes by MPs. Options include remaining in a customs union with the EU or holding a second referendum, both courses of action opposed by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and her government.
It is not clear what would happen were MPs to approve one of these options and the Government to refuse to implement it. Usually, the way to resolve such an impasse would be through a General Election, but this, too, is opposed by the Government, not least because the opposition Labour Party is leading in the polls.
“Do not ignore the will of Parliament”
Share prices in London started the week on an upbeat note, although markets across Europe were also higher, with gains in Frankfurt, Paris, Madrid and Amsterdam. The FTSE 100 was 0.93% higher in early trading at 7,346.68, while the FTSE 250 was 0.52% higher at 19,216.44.
Sterling saw mixed fortunes on foreign exchanges. It was up 0.29% against the dollar, at $1.3083 but lost 0.24% against the euro at €0.8893.
While the weight of Parliamentary opinion seems to favour a “softer” version of Brexit, such as remaining in a customs union, some in the Cabinet would resign if this were the outcome of the votes.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss told BBC Radio: "It's not clear to me that going softer is the way to command support."
She added: "If you look at the Parliamentary arithmetic now, it's not clear that something like a customs union actually commands support."
Ms Truss said: "I think that we are well prepared for [leaving with] no deal.
"I don't have any fear of no deal."
But the pro-EU Justice Secretary David Gauke said Mrs May ought not to ignore the will of Parliament if it votes for a softer exit.