As the UK government heads towards Brexit, with businesses still in the dark over the final outcome amid bitter political infighting, the British finance minister Philip Hammond is set to announce plans for a new 50p coin to commemorate the country's divorce from the European Union.
The currency, due to be unveiled during Mr Hammond's budget speech on Monday, appears to be intended to appease Brexiteers who are in favour of leaving and who have been campaigning for a stamp, bank holiday or coin to acknowledge the split. This would come in addition to a return of blue passports and Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent announcement of a “festival of Brexit Britain”.
Despite the new coin and the unveiling of the UK's spending plans, analysts are more focused on whether Britain will actually reach a Brexit agreement and the impact on the pound. The currency last week had its worst performance against the dollar in months.
The pound inched down to just above two-month lows on Monday, falling 0.1 per cent to $1.28, close to two-month lows of $1.27 touched last week.
Against the euro, the pound traded flat at 88.88 pence per euro.
“It will get worse for the pound unless there is some positive news on the likelihood of a Brexit deal that will be passed by parliament,” Jane Foley, head of currency strategy at Rabobank, told Reuters. “The budget is unlikely to have a major impact given this backdrop.”
Mr Hammond himself has acknowledged that Brexit looms over the country’s spending plans. He said on Sunday that the UK would need new tax and spending plans and may have to extend austerity policies if it fails to secure a deal with the European Union.
According to The Sun newspaper, the new coin will feature the UK Queen's head and the date March 29, 2019 and on the reverse the phrase "Friendship with all nations".
A 50p coin was struck when the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973 and when the UK held the presidency of the EU in 1998.
Earlier this year Brexiteers attempted to create their own Brexit coin to sell on eBay. It included a map of Britain under the motto “Never Give Our Sovereignty Away Again”.
Unfortunately the tails side included the message: “I Voted To Get Back Our Sovereign Independance” - the final word being the French spelling of the British "independence".
It is not yet known exactly what the new Brexit coins will look like, according to the BBC.
While The Sun claimed the minting of the new 50p as a "victory" saying it had "campaigned for the Government to create an enduring gesture to mark Brexit as a landmark national moment", many Twitter users were less than complimentary.
One user likened "50p" to the word "sop", using the definition of the word:
Another wondered what the new coin might actually be worth come the March exit:
Sterling traders will also be focused on the Bank of England monetary policy meeting on Thursday.
"Were it not for Brexit, the BoE on Thursday would probably be providing guidance on a rate hike, possibly in February given the compelling evidence of rising wage growth," MUFG analysts said in a note.