Brexit: Even Government admits it doesn’t know how bad no-deal would be – leader comment

Firms have failed to fill in a simple form, visas for EU students wouldn’t be long enough and the impact on the economy is too “complex” to fully understand.

Are you ready for a no-deal Brexit? Do you even know what you have to do? Perhaps you are confident our politicians wouldn’t do something so stupid.

This confidence may help explain why only about 41,000 businesses have applied for a special number they must have to trade with the EU in the event of a no-deal – out of 240,000 firms that need to do so – even though the process is free and takes just 10 minutes. Sounds, as Theresa May might say, “simples”.

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Unfortunately, this is just one of a myriad of problems associated with leaving the EU overnight, quite literally.

Theresa May has repeatedly refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Francisco Seco/AP)

In a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, two Scottish MPs, Ian Murray and Martin Whitfield, point out another one.

More than 25,000 people from EU countries study at Scottish universities every year. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, their visas under the ironically named “leave to remain” scheme would last three years; most undergraduate degrees in Scotland take four years.

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So EU students thinking of coming to Scotland are likely to reconsider when they discover they could potentially be deported before completing their studies.

Murray and Whitfield asked Javid to “urgently reconsider” the policy. Presumably, the UK Government is not deliberately planning to undermine Scottish universities and this is just a hiccup, a glitch they haven’t quite got round to sorting out.

It should be simple to do so – much like that form those 200,000 businesses have not yet found the time to fill in.

Of course, this is only going to matter if there is a no-deal Brexit. And the UK Government and our MPs are going to ensure that a no-deal Brexit doesn’t happen, aren’t they?

After all, the Government’s own analysis concluded the UK economy would be up to nine per cent smaller after 15 years if there’s a no-deal.

Reason enough to avoid it, one would have thought.

But that figure did not “account for any short-term disruptions, which would be likely to have additional short and long-run economic impacts in an immediate no-deal scenario”, according to the latest Government advice. “No modelling can completely capture the complex ways in which the UK economy could be affected by exiting the EU, particularly given the unprecedented circumstances of the UK’s departure.”

So, if you think you or the UK are ready for a no-deal Brexit, you’re almost certainly mistaken.