Cliff-edge Brexit looms as Dominic Raab reveals no-deal plans

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A majority of people expect the UK to crash out of the EU without a deal with Brussels, according to a survey published as the UK Government prepares to reveal its plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Around 20 technical papers dealing with the impact of a “cliff-edge” Brexit on different economic sectors will be published today, in the first batch of guidance for UK companies and residents.

Brexit minister Dominic Raab gives a press conference after a meeting with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: John Thys/Getty Images

Brexit minister Dominic Raab gives a press conference after a meeting with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: John Thys/Getty Images

The Scottish Government warned a no-deal Brexit would be “deeply damaging and disruptive for Scotland” and must be ruled out.

A survey commissioned by auditor KPMG suggests a majority believe a no-deal Brexit is the likeliest outcome, regardless of economic status or political opinion.

Of the 3,044 respondents, 54% said a no-deal Brexit was likely, with just 20% saying it was unlikely. The majority said they believed a no-deal Brexit would have an impact on their daily lives, with 70% saying prices would rise and 69% saying they would cut their spending.

“The results reveal how people are anticipating substantial disruption in the short to medium-term,” James Stewart, the head of Brexit at KPMG UK said. “The mood music of the Brexit talks is likely to have a direct effect on consumer confidence.”

Amid growing concern on both sides of the Channel at the shortening odds on a no-deal exit from the EU, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab will use a speech today to offer reassurance, insisting that “a good deal is within our sights”.

However, Mr Raab will say “sensible, measured,and proportionate” planning for a no-deal is “the responsible thing for us to do on all sides” and will call for preparations to extend to opening bilateral talks with other EU countries on specific issues.

Reports on Wednesday revealed that the UK is considering a bilateral agreement with Ireland to try preserve the common energy market on the island, in order to avoid costly no-deal contingencies which could involve generators being set up on barges around the coast to keep the lights on in Northern Ireland.

“I remain confident a good deal is within our sights, and that remains our top, and overriding, priority,” Mr Raab is expected to say. “If the EU responds with the same level of ambition and pragmatism, we will strike a strong deal that benefits both sides.

“But, we must be ready to consider the alternative. We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality.”

The Brexit Secretary has said EU citizens living in the UK, whose status in the UK would be thrown into doubt in a no-deal Brexit, will not be “turfed out” even if talks with Brussels failed.

The UK will take “unilateral action to maintain as much continuity as possible in the short term, in the event of no deal — irrespective of whether the EU reciprocates,” Mr Raab is expected to say.

“For our part, if the negotiations fail, we will continue to behave as responsible European neighbours, partners and allies,” he will add.

Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Constitution Secretary, said Scotland was “at the mercy” of the UK Government in terms of preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

“It would be far better for Scotland and the UK if, instead of putting effort into an undesirable ‘no deal’ scenario, the UK Government focussed on securing the least worst outcome for all of us,” Mr Russell said.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said the growing risk of a no-deal Brexit underlined the case for a referendum on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU.

“The choice between a catastrophic Brexit no-deal and the rejected Chequers plan is no choice at all,” Mr Brake said.