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Analysis

8 more reasons ‘no deal’ is bonkers

by Luke Lythgoe | 04.06.2018

It has long been clear that crashing out of the EU with no deal would be crazy. Now officials in David Davis’ Brexit department have drawn up scenarios for a no-deal Brexit – a mild one, a severe one and one dubbed “Armageddon”.

Details have been leaked to the Sunday Times by civil servants worried that Brexiters still think walking away from negotiations is an option. One official told the paper the scenarios were so explosive they were “locked in a safe”.

The UK would suffer “shortages of medicine, fuel and food within a fortnight”, according to the Doomsday scenario prepared by civil servants. Even their second-best scenario shows the Port of Dover collapsing on “day one” after crashing out.

The government’s plan to avoid this by throwing open the UK’s trade borders would only work if EU countries like France did the same. “If, for whatever reason, Europe decides to slow that supply down, then we’re screwed,” one senior official told the Sunday Times.

The government insists that “none of this would come to pass”. But with many Brexiters still touting no deal as a genuine option, it cannot be ruled out.

What’s more, no deal would be even worse than the problems mentioned in the Sunday Times leak. Here are 8 more issues.

1. Planes grounded

Flights between the EU and UK could be grounded. Airports and airlines are worried – even the chancellor has admitted it’s “theoretically conceivable”. This is because UK would lose access to Europe’s Open Skies agreement, which sets the rules for the aviation industry.

2. Citizens’ rights up in the air

Three million EU citizens in the UK and a million Brits on the continent would see their rights disappear overnight. Expect an exodus of nurses, doctors, construction workers, fruit pickers, restaurant staff, financiers, entrepreneurs… leading to staff shortages and fewer taxes to spend on things like the NHS.

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3. Fighting terrorism

The government wants to keep working with the EU to tackle cross-border terrorism and crime post Brexit. That’s proving hard enough within the framework of the withdrawal agreement. But without a deal, there won’t be any legal basis to do this.

4. Ireland chaos

Products such as Guinness criss-cross the Irish border several times during the manufacturing process. Each crossing would face delays and customs fees. And what of people who cross the border to work or communities that share hospitals? The peace process has been working well in Ireland over the past 20 years – but a border breakdown would stoke tensions between nationalists and unionists.

5. Golden opportunity for SNP

Nicola Sturgeon rebooted the SNP’s efforts to reignite the independence debate last month. A catastrophic Brexit which Scots didn’t vote for would speed things up considerably, potentially destroying the 300-year union between England and Scotland.

6. Regulatory minefield

Medicines, chemicals, food standards, banking, nuclear energy, maritime safety, police cooperation… So much of our lives is regulated by a network of dedicated EU agencies. We’d drop out of all of them with no deal. Many industries will struggle to function until new agreements are in place.

7. Trade turmoil

The UK won’t just crash out of the EU’s single market. We’ll also lose the free trade agreements the EU has with 66 other countries from Canada and Mexico to Switzerland and South Korea. That would further clobber the economy.

8. Dangerous world

We work side by side with our EU partners to tackle global threats: imposing sanctions against Russia for its occupation of Crimea, fighting people smugglers off the coast of Africa and so forth. Even Europe’s closest ally, the US, is kickstarting a trade war with us. The government wants to keep standing alongside other European powers. But if the EU is pursuing us through the courts for tens of billions of pounds it says we owe, how easy will that be?

This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared in March 2017

Edited by Hugo Dixon

10 Responses to “8 more reasons ‘no deal’ is bonkers”

  • Maybe the message needs to be changed given a few people will benefit greatly from a hard brexit. I now understand why a lot of extremely wealthy people are backing a hard brexit, especially as they will have benefitted from the EU. It needs to be explained to the general public, Leave and Remain, that we have been and are being conned. Left to these people, there will be no NHS, pensions, employment protection, consumer protection etc. That’s why a second referendum is so important.

  • I’ve thought for a long time that this is a huge con trick on the people of the UK. Vultures are circling, and they want us out before the new tax evasion laws come into effect, Mark my words. JC.

  • With the ‘writing on the wall; coming from every source including the experts in the Tory party how can this be allowed to continue? May is the hub of this brexit effort but she will not act in a way that will damage her career (what career?). And why is it that Corbyn continues to offer a slightly different brexit from Labour?

    These insane people are running our country. How can this be?

  • A No Deal would be a nightmare scenario for many of the 3 million EU citizens in Britain and 1 million UK expats. They would be completly at the mercy of what the UK Government and the respective EU governments decide. These are innocent people who have acted in good faith under the EU treaties, but most didn’t even get a vote in the Referendum.
    Given David Davis has been very cagey so far in offering guarentees to expats, and that’s when he’s pressured to negotiate with the EU, it doesn’t bode well that they will be high on his agenda afterwards. His communication with expat groups has been almost non-existant, despite the PMs insistance that citizens’ rights are an absolute priority.
    In spite of the Government’s proposal to introduce ‘settled staus’ for the EU migrants, there has been a steady outflow of EU migrants since the Referendum. A No Deal will do nothing to stem that flow, and many of these people are well-qualified and offer alot to services and the NHS.

    Of course, not all expats would necessarily be badly placed in the event of a No Deal. Given his forthright support for Brexit, I somehow doubt that ex Chancellor Lawson’s position as an expat in France is in much jeopardy. The I’m All Right Jack principle undoubtedly comes into play. However, for the majority of expats, a No Deal scenario would put into jeopardy everything they have worked for.

  • Alex Wilson.
    Why an European citizen living in the UK is a migrant, and a UK citizen in another European Country is an Expat? Note that many Europeans in the UK have much higher qualifications than the Brits abroad.
    Delusions of grandeuse, I would call it…

  • Even May recognises that “no deal” is simply not an option. This is why she has backed the idea of a “transitional” period and cave in whenever the EU get tough. When the EU Withdrawal bill goes before parliament this week, there is an amendment which, if adopteed, would take “no deal” off the table.
    If government persist with the “backstop” nonsense, then the transitional deal falls and we have “no deal”, ditto Max Fac and the customs partnership.

    Brexiters in government will not agree to what must be compromised and the DUP will not allow HMG to agree to the backstop being for NI only. A statesman would say that the risks associated with Brexit far outweigh any possible benefits and end it now – alas, we have no statesman at the helm of the nation.

  • Why is there so little talk of a no brexit if we can’t agree a solution that requires no border in Ireland. The referendum was advisory, so why is everyone talking as if we MUST leave the EU, however bad the conditions? Remaining must be on the agenda.

  • The problem is a lot of Leavers dismiss all this. They will tell you that these are lies made up by those who are riding the EU gravy train. When these things do happen they will simply say the EU did it to punish us, they didn’t have to. They could choose to, say, let planes fly, they didn’t have to withdraw open skies.

  • I think a no-deal Brexit will be avoided – the (sane part of the) government recognises that any form of no-deal would be devastating for the country. The Tories would get the blame, even though right-wing media would try to pin it on the EU. And that would be the end of the Party.

    Interesting that you mention the impact on flights to Europe. Under the more likely negotiated Brexit and the transition period (when everything between Britain and the EU remains just the same) flights to Europe would be unaffected. But the same may not be true for flights to the rest of the world. That is because Britain is set to unilaterally withdraw from the European Treaties on 30th March 2019 – and it is under those treaties (as an EU member state), that Britain flies to the rest of the world. The transition period (TP) arrangements will only be a ‘local deal’ between Europe and Britain – but withdrawal from the Treaties will affect Britain’s status internationally straight away – the TP will be irrelevant. Hence those flights might stop. Other things not in the news just now may be impacted immediately, as well.