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Analysis

Crisis what crisis? PM’s reckless no-deal tactic exposed

by Nick Kent | 27.02.2019

The prime minister fought to the last to stop Parliament from being given the opportunity to stop a no-deal Brexit, despite her own officials telling her that the UK is not remotely ready for the disaster of crashing out. Indeed her deputy David Lidington today described it as “chaotic”.

Just imagine it was a month to go until the start of winter and the NHS admitting that 30% of its most critical plans would not be ready in time. Or that a new school exam system was being introduced but only a sixth of schools had registered to participate. There would be uproar, with the government denounced and panic measures to try and rescue the situation.

Yet that is where we are with Brexit. While Theresa May was reluctantly agreeing yesterday to MPs voting on a no-deal Brexit before it could happen, her government slipped out a devastating report showing how unprepared the UK is.

One third of the most critical of government no-deal projects are not “on track” to be ready by March 29, despite £4 billion having been set aside for Brexit work and officials having been diverted from other projects to no-deal planning since December.

Only six trade agreements of the forty needed to maintain the UK’s existing trade with non-EU countries have been agreed. And it is some of the largest countries that haven’t signed up yet, including Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

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Just one sixth of companies (out of 240,000) that export solely to the EU have registered with government. This matters because they are going to have provide customs declarations for every item that they sell into the EU otherwise their goods will be stopped at the border.

30% of our food comes from EU. That doesn’t sound too bad perhaps until you understand that the end of March is a time of year when we are particularly dependent on EU imports of fresh fruit and vegetables. Prices will rise as a result and “many businesses in the food supply industry are unprepared for a no deal scenario”.

EU import tariffs are an eye-watering 70% on beef and 45% on lamb. What will that mean for the sales of the 92% of Welsh lamb exports that go to the EU? No wonder the government’s report says that the effect of import tariffs on local economies and supply chains of export tariffs would be “uncertain and costly” – rather an understatement.

The report admits that no-deal Brexit would mean the UK economy shrinking by between 6.3% and 9% in the long-term, with far worse impacts in some parts of the UK: -10.5% for the North East, and between -8% and -9% in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The government held off preparing for a no-deal Brexit until far too late while at the same time refusing to take no deal off the table as a policy option. The worst combination of decisions with the results their own report now lays bare.

What is to be done? Rest assured that there is now a new cabinet EU Exit (Trade and Preparedness) Committee which “has a more focussed remit”. That’s not much reassurance for the farmers, business owners, workers, shoppers and everybody else who – even now – faces plunging over the no-deal cliff edge in 30 days time.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

2 Responses to “Crisis what crisis? PM’s reckless no-deal tactic exposed”

  • No Deal was never ever a realistic possibility, merely a bluff on Theresa’s part. The scale of the horrors renders it unthinkable. As for gullible people Buying £300 Brexit emergency boxes, this is like putting your kitchen table up against the door to prepare for nuclear war. Forget it. Fortunately, it looks like the nightmare has been slain at long last so hopefully the media can focus on something else.

  • How is it possible for the Government to survive in the light of such unbelievable incompetence and stupidity ? Is it because it is too hard to believe that such a thing could be possible ? Like awarding a contract to a firm to provide shipping facilities for vital imports to the UK which has no ships ?