‘No deal’ warnings are scaremongering, pure and simple

by Luke Lythgoe | 19.12.2018

The government is very publicly ramping up its preparations for crashing out of the EU with no deal. That means spending billions of pounds and ditching key policy pledges, such as reforming social care.

These announcements are scaremongering, pure and simple. The spectacle of planning for no-deal chaos is a cynical tactic to help bully MPs into pushing the government’s miserable Brexit deal over the line in Parliament. The actual chances of a no-deal Brexit happening remain slim.

The fact is that MPs don’t want it, and they can stop it. The vast majority of members of the House of Commons have rejected no deal. Parliament is sovereign, and it is MPs – not the government – who are in charge of the Brexit process. They will have numerous opportunities in the coming weeks to block “no deal”. These include amending government motions, amending legislation or forcing votes through other means.

But MPs also need to have something to support too. Fortunately there is a clear alternative to crashing out: a People’s Vote. The choice being posed between May’s deal and no deal is no choice at all. MPs can and must swing behind a People’s Vote as the only way forward on Brexit.

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Meanwhile Brexiters continue to plug their own alternative, the cuddly-sounding “managed no deal”. This has been called out for the chaotic worst-case scenario it really is. Justice secretary David Gauke even called it a “unicorn that needs to be slaughtered” at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, according to the Telegraph.

And if you want to see what a “managed” no deal really means, look to Brussels. The EU has laid out the reality: lengthy border queues, scaled back flight schedules, and some temporary relief for financial markets. This seeks to avoid the worst cliff-edge scenarios, but stops short of offering any of the side-deals Brexiters blithely assume they will get. It is not an outcome that’s good for the country, and it’s not what anybody voted for in 2016.

In a People’s Vote, the public can choose to keep the much better deal we have inside the EU already. And there is nothing practical to stop us staying. The European Court of Justice has ruled that we can easily take back our Article 50 notification, even without the permission of the other 27 EU countries, and keep the preferential terms of our current EU deal. European leaders have also indicated they would be willing to extend the Article 50 deadline if we needed a little more time to hold a new vote.

The government’s “no deal” scare tactics are an attempt to hide these facts. And the only reason these flames can be fanned so effectively is because Theresa May refuses to let MPs vote on her miserable deal, instead running down the clock on Brexit.

With just 100 days to go until we’re due to leave the EU, no wonder the panic is setting in as the costs unfold. Five of the UK’s biggest groups representing business are looking on “in horror” at the stalemate in Westminster.

This is an irresponsible way to run a country. If politicians can do nothing but waste time, the only way forward is to pass this decision back to the public in a People’s Vote.

3 Responses to “‘No deal’ warnings are scaremongering, pure and simple”

  • Really, the only person who can force the issue is JC but he doesn’t really seem to know what to do next. There’s no point in being consumed with the idea of a 2nd election, that’s unlikely to happen. So first, make sure that the country cannot, legally, exit with no deal. Then insist on an extension to Article 50 and push for a new referendum. Meanwhile, those of us who are living in the EU have no idea what sort of a future we’ll have. I didn’t move to France because I’m wealthy – quite the reverse. Had I stayed in the UK, I’d have been paying a mortgage until I was 83. I sold up and with what was left after paying off the mortgage, I was able to buy outright here – house prices are so very much lower. We ex-pats are all living in fear of the mess created by British politicians.

  • Well of course it’s scaremongering of the MPs.
    But it’s no bad thing if the public get to know of the multiple disasters that would attend No Deal. In polling of Tory supporters, given a choice between No Deal and the government’s deal, 52% go for No Deal. Charity surely requires that the preference of at least some of them is based on ignorance. And it would surely be better if they were better informed. .

  • @John Morrison.
    For those of us who want to save our position in the EU it is urgently necessary to find an effective way to stop “no deal”. It is incorrect to say we can “insist on an extension to Article 50 and push for a new referendum.” The ECJ have decreed that we can unilaterally decide to withdraw Article 50 i.e. cancel brexit altogether – not to extend or delay Article 50. To do the latter we need the unanimous consent of every one of “the 27” and it is clear that this will only be forthcoming if a new situation has arisen such as a “people’s vote” or a general election – not just a request for more time to sort out what we want to do. So a parliamentary majority for a people’s vote must be found well before March 29 and I reckon “no deal” must be ruled out first, thus keeping it off the ballot paper as an option.

    If parliament fails to endorse the final offer from the EU the only rational way forward is to ask the electorate what they want to do. But parliament is still sovereign and is entitled first to rule out a destructive “no deal” and then say in effect – “Here is what brexit looks like ( i.e. the only offer on the table from the EU). Do you want to proceed with it or retain full EU membership? Can someone – Dominic Grieve perhaps – chart the legal way to achieve this?