Estate agents said that “bored of Brexit” home buyers and sellers cannot keep putting their lives on hold waiting for Parliament to break its deadlock and want to get on with moving. The housing market stalled as buyers awaited the outcome of UK-EU talks, which have still not concluded three years after the UK voted to leave. After weeks of turmoil in the House of Commons, Theresa May travelled to Brussels last week and agreed a second Article 50 extension, pushing the Brexit deadline back to October 31 following weeks of uncertainty.
House prices rised 1.1 percent – or £3,447 – in the month to April 6, meaning the average price is now £305,449. But despite the spring bounce in April the figure is still 0.1% lower than a year ago.
Rightmove said the uncertain political backdrop continues to hold back the market, with new seller asking prices, the number of properties coming to market and the number of sales agreed all below this time last year.
Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “The rise in new seller asking prices reflects growing activity as the market builds momentum, egged on by the arrival of Easter.“
Some sectors of the market and some parts of the country have strong buyer demand and a lack of suitable supply.
“However, on average, properties are still coming to the market at slightly lower prices than a year ago.
“It’s one of the most price-sensitive markets that we’ve seen for years, with buyers understandably looking for value or for homes with extra quality and appeal that suit their needs.”
Talks between the Government and Labour are set to continue over the Easter parliamentary recess in the hope of finding a Brexit agreement that will be acceptable to MPs.
The EU has insisted the terms of the UK’s withdrawal, rejected three times by MPs, cannot be renegotiated – but there is scope to strengthen the political declaration, a document setting out the parameters of the UK’s future relations with the EU, ahead of the new Brexit deadline.
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8.30am update: Hammond mocked Tory peers for engaging in “suicide pact”
Philip Hammond mocked prominent Tory peers for engaging in a “suicide pact” during failed bids to beat Theresa May to the Tory leadership.
The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Hammond used a speech in the US on Friday to say Environment Secretary Michael Gove and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson had formed an “unintended suicide pact” in the 2016 leadership contest.
The Chancellor said that Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom had effectively “knifed herself” during the race to become Prime Minister, according to the newspaper.
Mrs May is facing calls to quit and trigger a new leadership contest, with ex-cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith saying she should stand down as early as next month.
Mr Johnson hit back at David Lammy after the Labour MP defended comparing some Tory peers to the Nazis.
The remarks came as Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, Mrs May’s defacto deputy, said talks with Labour on trying to end the deadlock would continue over the Easter parliamentary recess. But discussions are not expected to resume on Monday, according to Labour sources.
Referring to the leadership battle, the newspaper reported Mr Hammond as saying: “If you remember last time this happened in 2016, Gove and Johnson knifed each other in an unintended suicide pact.
“Which left just Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May. And then Andrea Leadsom knifed herself in a private suicide pact and Theresa May inherited the prime ministership without anybody casting a single vote.”
8.20am update: Hunt to tell Japan business leaders UK is focused on avoiding no deal
Jeremy Hunt is using a visit to Japan to tell business leaders that the UK is focused on avoiding a no-deal Brexit.
Following withdrawal from the EU being delayed until October 31, Mr Hunt will stress on Monday that Britain is seeking “tariff-free frictionless trade” with the bloc.
As well as meeting Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, Mr Hunt is also visiting a Tokyo high school to help teach English.
The Foreign Secretary will “update them on EU exit developments, and reassure them that UK Government is focused on avoiding a no-deal Brexit and on agreeing a deal which that will ensure tariff-free frictionless trade between the EU and the UK”.
Mr Hunt, who has previously worked in Japan, intends to promote English as the “language of opportunity” on the trip.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Hunt said: “I’m privileged to be able to visit Japan as Foreign Secretary and see how that shared culture is inspiring the next generation. The UK has always been an outward-looking global power. That cannot change after Brexit. I look forward to our relationship with Japan getting even closer in the years after we leave the EU.”
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