The pound started the week with a spring in its step this morning as talks continued to break the Brexit deadlock.
With ministers and members of the opposition Labour Party preparing to continue their discussions over the Easter holiday, sterling traded higher against major currencies.
Against the yen it rose 0.17% to 146.695 yen.
Shares enjoyed mixed fortunes, with the blue-chip FTSE 100 index down 0.07% at 7,431.72, while the FTSE 250, which is more representative of domestic British business, rose 0.22% to 19,755.88.
Parliament has yet to agree on the details of British withdrawal from the European Union, and the deadline has now been moved back to 31 October. Theresa May, Prime Minister, has been criticised by some in her own party for exploring whether an agreement can be reached with Labour.
While there is no deadline for the conclusion of the cross-party talks, he said, the process should not drag out indefinitely and both sides would take stock in ten days’ time.
The House of Commons rose for the Easter recess on 11 April and MPs will return on 23 April. The forthcoming long weekend begins with Good Friday on 19 April and continues to the end of Easter bank holiday on 22 April.
The Brexit process has become inextricably bound up with Mrs May’s future as party leader – and as Prime Minister. She has pledged to stand down once Parliament has ratified the withdrawal agreement, but Labour figures point out that her replacement may not feel bound by whatever has been agreed in cross-party discussions.
Mr Lidington pointed out that simply replacing Mrs May would not change “the arithmetic in Parliament”.
Meanwhile Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, warned on a visit to Japan that continued indecision about Brexit would damage the UK.