The prospect of an agreement in Parliament on the British government’s Brexit deal seems to have cheered markets.
Sterling and share prices are trading higher than they were a month ago, despite short-term ups and downs.
March is the crunch month for the Brexit process, with the UK due to leave the European Union on 29 March.
Irish “backstop” is stumbling block
Before then, a decisive vote in Parliament is due on 12 March, the outcome of which is largely dependent on negotiations currently under way between London and Brussels.
This morning, the blue-chip was off 0.65% at 7,152.84, but was still higher than the 7,034.13 at which it stood a month ago, on 4 February.
A month ago, on 4 February, it stood at 18,848.81.
Sterling was unchanged against the , at $1.3206, but was markedly higher than its value a month ago, on 4 February, when it stood at $1.3037.
It had lost 0.07% against the , at €1.1620, but was still higher than the €1.1401 at which it traded on 4 February.
Against the it was 0.05% down at 147.82 yen, which was still higher than the 143.29 yen at which it traded on 4 February.
Optimistic noises about the possibility of a deal clearing the House of Commons on or shortly after 12 March may have helped buoy markets. Britain is asking for some sort of binding agreement limiting the length of time that Northern Ireland will be governed by a “backstop” agreement designed to avoid the need for frontier controls with the Irish Republic.
“Mood to compromise”
At present, the proposed backstop would continue indefinitely unless the UK and EU agree a comprehensive trade deal.
While EU leaders have refused to re-negotiate the withdrawal agreement already agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May, they are open to “clarifying” aspects of it.
At present, there is no mechanism whereby Britain can end the backstop arrangement without the agreement of the EU. At present, Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, is attempting to negotiate a form of words with the EU that will satisfy backbenchers, those MPs that do not hold government office.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, said: "Most MPs are in a mood to compromise, but the danger of this backstop becoming permanent is a real one and it has to be tackled."