No-deal Brexit 'a foolhardy gamble that poses fundamental risk to economy', say MPs
A no-deal Brexit would pose a "fundamental risk" to the UK economy, harm the competitiveness of key industries and put thousands of jobs at risk, according to senior MPs.
In a damning report, the cross-party Brexit Committee said leaving the EU without a deal would be "at best a foolhardy gamble and at worst lead to severe disruption" across the country.
Boris Johnson - who is expected to be confirmed as the new Prime Minister next week - - has pledged to deliver Brexit "do or die" on 31 October.
But the committee report says: "Some have argued that a no deal exit would bring the EU 'back to the table' and that the UK would secure a better deal as a result.
"This is, at best, a gamble. At worst, it could lead to severe disruption of the economy, pose a fundamental risk to the competitiveness of key sectors of the UK economy, and put many jobs and
livelihoods at risk."
In particular, the report says that the north east of England and the West Midlands would be the areas of the UK most badly affected by no-deal, with the chemical, retail, food and drink and manufacturing sectors the hardest parts of the economy.
The report also dismisses Mr Johnson's suggestion that the UK could maintain tariff-free trade with the EU even after no-deal through the World Trade Organisation's so-called "GATT 24" rules.
"It requires an agreement between the two parties, a plan as to how the end state will be reached, and for this agreement to be notified to all parties to the WTO," the report says. "By definition, leaving without a deal means there is no agreement."
Labour MP Hilary Benn, who is the committee's chair, said: "We heard from representatives of important sectors of the UK economy which are all great British success stories. Every single one warned us of the damaging consequences faced by their members in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
"Yesterday’s latest forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility that a no-deal Brexit could cause a £30bn hit tothe public finances, with an economy pushed into recession and asset prices and the pound falling sharply, will only add to the deep concerns of UK businesses.
"A no-deal Brexit, with no GATT XXIV agreement, would be at best a foolhardy gamble and at worst, lead to severe disruption, and it is neither desirable nor sustainable as an end state for our economic relations with the EU.
"This clear evidence reinforces our previous conclusion that a ‘managed no deal’ cannot constitute the policy of any responsible Government."