Cabinet minister Greg Clark warns against no-deal Brexit 'disaster'

Posted On: 
10th January 2019

A no-deal Brexit would be "dire" and a "disaster", Business Secretary Greg Clark has warned.

The Business Secretary said there was not "anything remotely like a majority" for a no-deal Brexit.

The Cabinet minister said firms found it "bewildering" that Britain could opt to leave the EU without a deal if Theresa May's Brexit agreement is voted down.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly warned MPs that voting against her deal will risk either an end to the Brexit process or Britain leaving without an agreement on 29 March.

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She has long described a no-deal outcome as "better than a bad deal".

But, in a piece for Politico, Mr Clark said: "In recent weeks, confidence from investors has been shaken.

"Debates in the UK parliament are monitored closely, and with mounting alarm, in boardrooms around the world.

"The dire prospect that we could tolerate trading with our largest and closest market on World Trade Organisation terms — the most rudimentary that exist between any nations on earth — is bewildering to them."

The Cabinet minister - who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum - was later pressed on whether he could quit the Government to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

He told the Today programme: "I would always work and fight to make sure that the policy of the Government is to have a good deal and to avoid what I think would be a disaster which would be no deal."

Mrs May suffered a fresh defeat in the Commons this week as MPs teamed up to curb the Treasury's ability to raise taxes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Pointing to that defeat, Mr Clark repeated his call for a series of so-called "indicative" Commons votes to try and find an alternative plan should MPs reject the Prime Minister's deal.

"It is my strong view that we need to come together," he said.

"We need to act to avoid a no-deal because I don’t think there is anything remotely like a majority in Parliament that will tolerate this."

He added: "I have said in public and in discussions that to establish what Parliament wants and what Parliament supports can be a useful step.

"You need, it seems to me, to move from Parliament being just a scrutineer but to being active participants, and that means discovering Parliament's mind.

"In doing so I think what would very quickly be established, there is a substantial majority that absolutely does not want to see no deal."


Campaigners for a second Brexit referendum quickly pounced on the Business Secretary's remarks.

Labour MP Jo Stevens of the Best for Britain campaign said: "The Business Secretary is putting his party leader to shame by grasping the nettle and calling for no-deal to be taken off the table. Parliament cannot and will not let such a disaster happen.

"The madness of no-deal is that the government is wasting billions on emergency measures to scare MPs into backing Theresa May's rip-off deal. There's no way that's in the national interest."

The comments from Mr Clark came as Nick Timothy, the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, claimed the PM would not allow a no-deal Brexit to take place.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: "No 10 is trying to give the impression that no deal remains possible but, after many years of knowing the Prime Minister, I do not believe that she would willingly take Britain out of the EU without a deal."