Government risking ‘leap in the dark’ with no deal
The Government’s much-touted negotiating threat that ‘no deal would be better than a bad deal’ risks doing huge damage to the UK economy, our jobs, rights at work and living standards. Last week the all-party Commons Select Committee on International Trade made clear that ‘no deal’ was in fact the worst ‘bad deal’ on offer. Today the all-party Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs backs that up and reveals that the Government isn’t even sure what to do if it opts for ‘no deal’, making it a real leap in the dark.
The Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by veteran Conservative MP and Leave supporter Crispin Blunt, identifies the top risks that would result from ‘no deal’:
- ongoing disputes over the exit ‘bill’ – how much Britain needs to pay the EU for historical commitments, which could all end up in court;
- uncertainty and confusion for UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK, with no right2remain;
- trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms which the International Trade Select Committee dealt with last week, and which could be deeply damaging for some of Britain’s best jobs and every household’s budget;
- a ‘regulatory gap’ and legal uncertainty in areas not covered by the “Great Repeal Bill”;
- uncertainty over UK participation in the EU’s common foreign and security policy; and, possibly most worrying of all,
- the sudden return of a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (to which we could add the effective end of the common travel area between Ireland and the UK.)
Any one of these could be deeply damaging to working people in Britain (as well as in the rest of Europe – and especially Ireland). Jobs would be lost, wages would fall still further, and the cost of goods in the shops would rise even faster than wages, eating away at household budgets.
Labour MP Phil Wilson, a leading supporter of Open Britain, commented that
“This extreme form of Brexit would take our economy off a cliff edge. We would face punishing tariffs on our trade with Europe, costing jobs and increasing prices in the shops. We would be caught in confusion over regulation, which would damage business, and face the worrying prospect of a hard border in Ireland.”
Meanwhile Crispin Blunt MP concentrated on the lack of planning for such an option – despite the Government being the ones to introduce the idea. He said:
“The possibility of ‘no deal’ is real enough to require the Government to plan how to deal with it. But there is no evidence to indicate that this is receiving the consideration it deserves or that serious contingency planning is underway. The Government has repeatedly said that it will walk away from a ‘bad’ final deal. That makes preparing for ‘no deal’ all the more essential.”
But the key conclusion in the report his committee has produced is that ‘no deal’ would be a very bad deal indeed:
“It is clear from our evidence … that a complete breakdown in negotiations represents a very destructive outcome leading to mutually assured damage for the EU and the UK. Both sides would suffer economic losses and harm to their international reputations. Individuals and businesses in both the UK and EU could be subject to considerable personal uncertainty and legal confusion. It is a key national and European Union interest that such a situation is avoided.”