Sterling, FTSE 100 gain ahead of UK PM Boris Johnson’s expected resignation

PUBLISHED: Thu, 07 Jul 2022 11:57:36 GMT
Silvia Amaro and Elliot Smith
Key Points
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to resign later on Thursday.
  • A Downing Street spokesperson told NBC News that Johnson will make a statement later in the day.
  • The pound rose to trade around $1.199 at 10.40 a.m. London time. The FTSE 100 stock index rose 1.12% and the 10-year U.K. government bond yield increased to hit 2.181%.

Sterling hit a session high Thursday on expectations that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will resign later in the day.

The pound rose 0.35% against the U.S. dollar to trade at $1.1971 around 9.25 a.m. London time. It pared gains slightly to trade around $1.199 at 10.40 a.m.

A Downing Street spokesperson told NBC News that Johnson will make a statement to the country later Thursday.

Meanwhile the FTSE 100 stock index rose 1.12% following multiple media reports, including by Sky News, that the prime minister is set to resign. CNBC and NBC News were unable to independently verify these reports.

In bond markets, the 10-year U.K. government bond yield rose to hit 2.181

It comes after more than 50 MPs resigned from Johnson’s government within 48 hours.

The prime minister has been under increasing pressure since Tuesday, when two government heavy weights, the health and finance minister, resigned from office. This led to a cascade of departures from government.

Roger Jones, head of U.K. equities at London and Capital, told CNBC there was “some relief” in currency markets because it was looking as if “this is not going to be long and drawn out with the prime minister refusing to go and ultimately causing a policy stalemate.”

The first resignations began in earnest on Tuesday, but Johnson clung to his position, appointing replacement ministers. However, even some of the new appointees have now told him that he needs to go.

Newly appointed finance minister Nadhim Zahawi said in a letter “you know in your heart what the right thing to do is, and go now.”

Market players are already wondering that a resignation would mean for the U.K.’s economy.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes a question from the media during his press conference at the NATO Summit on June 30, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.
Denis Doyle | Getty Images

“If Boris Johnson resigns as UK Prime Minister later today, as the media is now reporting, then it’s possible that fiscal policy may be a bit looser and monetary policy may have to be a bit tighter,” Paul Dales, chief U.K. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

How we got here

Thursday’s developments follow a premiership plagued by scandals and allegations of misleading the public, but the final straw for many MPs involves Conservative lawmaker Chris Pincher. The former deputy chief whip was suspended last week amid accusations that he drunkenly groped two men at a private members club.

Johnson on Tuesday apologized for appointing Pincher deputy chief whip — a senior party role — despite knowing of an investigation into his behavior in 2019.

The revelation that Johnson knew of the misconduct allegations prompted the resignations on Tuesday of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

In a resignation speech to parliament Wednesday, Javid, also a former chancellor, said “treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months.”

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