Government blasted over 'unacceptable' proposals for no-deal Brexit
Business groups, MPs and campaigners have slammed the Government over its “unacceptable” proposals for crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Ministers today published 25 papers laying out advice to businesses, public bodies and the public on how best to prepare for the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal in March 2019.
The ‘technical notices’ included warnings that card charges on the continent could rise, while Brits living in Europe could lose access to bank accounts and pensions.
They showed that the UK faced a swamp of extra regulation in the event of a no-deal Brexit and would need to negotiate with the EU to ensure key elements of crucial sectors can stay afloat.
The papers outlined plans to stockpile medicines and keep nuclear regulations running, among other things – but had no detail about how the Northern Irish border would be kept open.
Hilary Benn, the Labour chair of the Brexit Select Committee, said the papers showed that failure to strike an agreement with the bloc would be “very damaging economically”.
“Having wasted two years, these papers show exactly why no-deal is unacceptable,” he blasted.
He said ministers “must now ensure that an agreement is reached with the EU which provides a transition period and protects jobs, trade and investment”.
Josh Hardie, the deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said anyone who talked up falling back on World Trade Organisation rules was living “in a world of fantasy”.
He added: “By now few can be in any doubt that no deal would wreak havoc on economies across Europe.”
Campaigners calling for a second Brexit referendum said the Government had left Britain in a “shambolic situation” as it had “utterly failed” to get the EU or the Conservative party on its side.
“They have made a catastrophic mess of this process from start to finish and that’s why we’re looking down the barrel of a disastrous no deal Brexit,” Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said on behalf of the People’s Vote campaign.
The Liberal Democrats meanwhile said the papers proved a no-deal Brexit would be “a disaster for British families and British jobs”.
And the TUC agreed, saying it would be “devastating for working people” and calling on Theresa May to “face down the extremists in her party” and secure a Brexit deal.
Labour said the Government had proved it was “not prepared” for a no-deal scenario and blasted Brexit Secretary Mr Raab for being “thin on detail”.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: “Ministers should be getting on the job of negotiating a Brexit deal that works for Britain, not publishing vague documents that will convince no one.”
However, Conservative MP and former Brexit Secretary David Davis praised Mr Raab for releasing the papers, saying it was “the right thing to do”.
“I had hoped we would be announcing some of this stuff in March, but a lot of departments were nervous,” he told talkRADIO.
Unveiling the no-deal plans, Mr Raab said: “Let me be clear about this, this is not what we want and it’s not what we expect.
"But, we must be ready. We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality.
“And to do this, we need to have a sensible, responsible and realistic conversation about what a no-deal situation really means in practice.”