Sterling fades as Conservatives vote in UK leadership contest

British Pound Sterling banknotes are seen at the Money Service Austria company’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, November 16, 2017. — Reuters pic
British Pound Sterling banknotes are seen at the Money Service Austria company’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, November 16, 2017. — Reuters pic

LONDON, June 13 — The pound slipped today as concern grew about a leadership contest in Britain that may lead to a disorderly departure from the European Union.

Boris Johnson, the front-runner in the contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, has said he wants to Britain to quit the EU at the end of October even if that means leaving without a deal.

The process of replacing May starts today, when Britain’s ruling Conservatives vote to eliminate at least one of the 10 candidates for the leadership.

Political uncertainty and parliamentary feuding have unnerved investors, who are avoiding sterling until a new British leader is in place.

“I can’t see sterling getting any help. Negative sentiment is building, and a move towards 91 pence per euro isn’t at all out of the question as ‘no-deal’ fears grow,” said Societe Generale strategist Kit Juckes.

The pound was down 0.2 per cent at US$1.2662, close to a one-week low of US$1.2653 hit on Monday. It was down 0.2 per cent against the euro at 89.2 pence.

Conservative lawmakers will cast their votes in the first round of the leadership contest between 0900 GMT and 1100 GMT. Any candidate with 16 votes or fewer will be eliminated. A new prime minister should be chosen by the end of July.

Johnson led the official campaign to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum. Betting markets give him a 67 per cent probability of winning the top job. — Reuters