Jeremy Corbyn accuses Theresa May of pushing ‘Project Fear’ with no-deal contingency planning

Posted On: 
7th January 2019

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of “promoting project fear” by publicly carrying out contigency planning to show Britain is preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn criticised the PM's Brexit agreement ahead of next week's crucial Commons vote
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader used the term - which is more often utilised by Brexiteers to dismiss warnings of chaos following a hard Brexit - after ministers arranged for dozens of lorries to travel from a Kent airfield to Dover this morning to simulate disruption at the ports.

Manston airfield could be used as a lorry park to prevent traffic jams along the A256 if extra customs checks are imposed were Britain to crash out of the bloc on 29 March without a deal.

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Labour had demanded that the Prime Minister should make a statement to the Commons today outlining what, if any, concessions she had wrung from the EU ahead of next week's crucial vote on her Brexit deal.

In an attempt to drag Mrs May before MPs, Mr Corbyn tabled an urgent question - but Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay went in her place.

"The Prime Minister suggested a breakthrough had been secured last week and the issue Mr Speaker is that she’s not here because she’s busy promoting project fear, it’s all hot air,” he said. 

He later added: “We’re now told that if we don’t support (the deal) the Government is prepared to push our whole economy off a cliff-edge and to prove this no-deal preparations are underway.”

Mr Corbyn said the Prime Minister was trying to “blackmail” the public into supporting her “Frankenstein monster of a deal” by running down the clock.

The Labour leader also savaged Chris Grayling following the controversial decision to award Seaborne Freight the contract as an emergency ferry service in the event of leaving without a deal despite it not having any vessels.

“The Transport Secretary, who has a PHD in incompetency in running ministries, has awarded a shipping contract to a company that doesn’t have any ships and even today we see he farce of lorries being lined up to stage a fake traffic jam in Kent to pretend to the EU that the Government is ready for a no-deal…”

“I fear the reason so many of her Cabinet are in the dark is because there is nothing to know…”

The clash comes after more than 200 MPs from across the political divide urged Theresa May in a letter to rule out heading over the “cliff-edge” of a no-deal Brexit.

When asked if the Government agreed, Mr Barclay told the Commons: “The core point about being asked to rule out no-deal is that the House has to be for something rather than simply to agree what it is against and if you look at the signatories on the letter what is clear is the whole spectrum of issues that those members support.”