Government not prepared for 'no deal' Brexit outcome - MPs

Posted On: 
12th March 2017

The Government is failing to prepare properly for the serious risks of a "no deal" outcome from the Brexit negotiations, a damning report from MPs has concluded. 

Theresa May speaking to reporters at the European Council on Thursday
Credit: 
PA

Theresa May has said she is prepared to walk away from trade negotiations with Brussels, arguing that "no deal is better than a bad deal".

But the Foreign Affairs Committee said not reaching a deal risked dire consequences, including disputes over the exit bill, falling back on WTO trading rules and the reintroduction of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

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Despite those consequences the MPs said there was "no evidence" the Government had properly prepared for such an outcome. 

“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," said committee chair Crispin Blunt, who himself backed Brexit.
 
“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. Such preparation reinforces that stance," the Tory MP and former minister added.
 
“Last year, the Committee described the Government’s failure to plan for a Leave vote as an act of gross negligence. This Government must not make a comparable mistake."

A government spokesman rejected the claims ministers were not preparing, saying ministers were looking at a range of possible scenarios.

"We enter these negotiations aiming for a positive new partnership with the EU, including a comprehensive agreement on free trade. We are confident we can achieve such an outcome and that it is in the interests of both sides.

"However, as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [David Davis] has said, a responsible government should prepare for all potential outcomes.

"He briefed the Cabinet last month on the need to prepare not just for a negotiated settlement, but for the unlikely scenario in which no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached."

It comes as Mr Davis issued a warning to MPs not to block the Government's Brexit bill.