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Fitch keeps UK on rating watch negative amid Brexit uncertainty

Fitch Ratings kept the AA long-term issuer default ratings of the U.K. on rating watch negative, citing the continuing Brexit uncertainty despite the country striking a revised withdrawal agreement with the European Union.

The rating agency said the nature and timing of Brexit will remain unclear until the withdrawal agreement is ratified. The U.K. Parliament will vote Oct. 19 on the deal.

"At the time of writing the risk of a no-deal departure has reduced but not been eliminated," said Fitch, which plans to resolve the status of the U.K.'s ratings once the Brexit path becomes clearer.

In the event that Parliament rejects the Brexit deal, Fitch expects the government of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to abide by a law that requires him to ask the EU for an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit date.

Parliament could also force the government to hold a referendum on the Brexit deal, widening the range of possible outcomes including a general election, according to Fitch.

Fitch has lowered its 2020 growth forecast for the U.K. to 1.2% from an estimate of 1.5% in June due to the Brexit uncertainty, which has led to a slump in business investment and sentiment.

In a related announcement, Fitch also maintained the Bank of England's AA long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating on rating watch negative.