Cabinet ministers warn economic chaos and emergency shipping regime loom after no-deal Brexit
Cabinet ministers have warned Theresa May that a no-deal Brexit could plunge Britain into an economic crisis and force the Government to charter ships to access food and medicines.
At a fiery meeting of the Cabinet yesterday, de-facto deputy prime minister David Lidington said crashing out of the EU without a deal could spark another massive economic wobble like the ‘Black Wednesday’ event of 25 years ago.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling meanwhile told colleagues the Government could commission ships to get supplies through Belgian and Dutch ports if traffic between Dover and Calais clogs up.
The revelations pile pressure on the Prime Minister to have a deal in place before the UK quits the bloc at the end of March next year.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said a deal must be finalised by the end of November to ensure the relevant preparations can be made in time, but the negotiations are at an impasse over the Irish border issue.
It also comes as Mrs May prepares to face her backbenchers tonight amid swirling speculation about a possible challenge to her leadership.
First Secretary of State David Lidington told the Cabinet he was the only person at the table who had been an MP in 1992 when interest rates rocketed and Britain quit the European exchange rate mechanism.
The veteran Tory MP warned colleagues the country “couldn’t have that level of chaos again,” according to the Sun.
He also said the Dover-Calais freight route could be operating at 12-25% of its full capacity for up to six months, according to the FT, while Mr Grayling set out his proposals for chartering boats on other routes.
“Whatever we do at our end, the French could cause chaos if they carry out checks at their end,” one government official told the paper.
“Dover-Calais would be the obvious pinch point. The French would say they were only applying the rules.”
But a government source denied there were plans to buy or charter boats and said private firms were instead being urged to consider different routes, according to the BBC.
'FIRST CIRCLE OF HELL'
Elsewhere, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the EU proposal to keep the whole UK in a customs arrangement with the bloc to protect the Irish border could end up like “Dante’s first circle of hell,” the Spectator reports.
The Times meanwhile said ministers studied documents that warned extending the Brexit transition period - another proposal to keep the border open - could leave Britain in a “long-running” limbo-mode.
During the two-hour Cabinet meeting ministers are said to have been deeply divided over whether to compromise to secure a deal with the bloc or take a more hardline stance.
It emerged yesterday that Mr Raab will step up no-deal Brexit planning by giving his Cabinet colleagues weekly updates on the Government's plans.
Mrs May is likely to face an equally fraught reception tonight when she addresses her restless backbenchers at a meeting of the powerful 1922 Committee.
It comes after reports the number of letters of no-confidence in her handed to the committee could be nearing the required 48 to trigger a leadership process.