No-deal Brexit is 'default position' if Theresa May’s deal falls, warns Andrea Leadsom

Posted On: 
23rd December 2018

Andrea Leadsom has told MPs that a no-deal Brexit will become the "default position" if they fail to back Theresa May's deal.

Andrea Leadsom insisted the Government would not stop planning for no-deal
Credit: 
PA

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The Commons leader told MPs that crashing out of the EU without an agreement was the “legal default” if they vote down Mrs May’s plan and fail to propose an alternative, as she warned that Parliament could not stop the Government's no-deal preparations.

The Leave-backing Cabinet minister told the Sunday Telegraph: “Parliament can always of course express a view, but in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit, Parliament does need to vote for a deal.

“The legal default position is that if there isn’t a deal then the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal.”

Mrs May has delayed the crunch vote on her deal until January in a bid to secure further concessions from the EU, specifically over the contentious Irish backstop, in a bid to win support from her own backbenches.

But so far the EU have refused to offer to renegotiate, with European Commission leader Jean-Claude Juncker warning there is "no room whatsoever" to make legal changes to the text.

Three Conservative MPs, including former minister Nick Boles, have warned they would give up the Conservative whip if they party accepted no-deal as its official policy. While Justice Secretary David Guake suggested he would resign from the government.

Earlier this year a cross-party group of MPs set out an amendment to the finance bill in a bid to give Parliament an opportunity to thwart a no-deal scenario. If passed, the amendment would force the Government to seek approval from MPs for any new funding for no-deal preparations.

But in a move that will anger her Remain-backing colleagues, Ms Leadsom said the Government would not halt planning for no-deal, even if ordered to by the Commons.

She said: “The Government will have to, as a competent Government, continue to prepare for all eventualities. That is Government policy.”

But Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who supports the Best for Britain campaign group, blasted the warning, insisting Parliament would still be able to halt a cliff-edge Brexit.

She said: “Is this really where the Brexiteers have ended up? The merchants of ‘take back control’ have pivoted to ‘you can’t stop us from crashing the car’.

“This is a barking dog that will never bite. The reality is that Parliament can, and will, stop a no-deal Brexit. No politician worth their salt would allow such chaos and unnecessary harm.”