The UK Government is set to reveal its plan for a no-deal Brexit from next week, prompting claims that ministers were pushing for the most damaging exit from the EU.
Papers on dozens of subjects, covering everything from travel with pets to regulation of financial services, will begin to be published in what government sources said was a demonstration of the UK’s readiness for no-deal.
I believe that 50-50 is a good assessment because time is running out and we need to move really fast if we’ve got to strike a deal that is positive both the EU and the UKKRISTIAN JENSEN Danish finance minister
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading figure in the People’s Vote campaign for a new referendum on the terms of the UK’s deal with Brussels, said ministers were “making a no deal Brexit more likely”.
Publication of the technical papers is expected to heighten concern about the impact a no-deal scenario would have on food and medicine supplies in the UK, with ministers admitting that plans have been drawn up in case stocks run low.
The list of more than 80 topics to be covered includes aviation safety and security, testing of medicines, safety of blood supplies, and citizens’ rights affecting expats in the UK and the EU.
But government sources were quoted insisting that the papers would “very calmly show the EU that, in the event of No Deal, we’ve thought of it and we’re going to be ready”.
The source added that publication “categorically isn’t… some Project Fear exercise”.
On Friday, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted that Britain would “survive and prosper” after a no-deal Brexit, 12 hours after describing such an exit from the EU as a “mistake we would regret for generations”.
Mr Hunt had warned that failure to hammer out a deal with the UK would be “a big mistake for Europe”.
He was criticised by Brexiteer MPs for the interview with ITV News on Thursday, and clarified in a tweet: “Important not to misrepresent my words: Britain WOULD survive and prosper without a deal... but it would be a big mistake for Europe because of inevitable impact on long term partnership with UK.
“We will only sign up to deal that respects referendum result.”
Danish finance minister Kristian Jensen yesterday added his voice to European concerns at the growing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Jensen backed comments earlier in the week by the Latvian foreign minister, who gave a no-deal scenario even odds.
“I also believe that 50-50 is a very good assessment because time is running out and we need to move really fast if we’ve got to strike a deal that is positive both for the UK and EU,” he told the BBC.
He added that Theresa May’s proposals as set out in the government’s White Paper on Brexit were “a realistic proposal for good negotiations” despite being largely ruled out by the EU.
Mr Umunna said a no-deal exit would be “a catastrophe”. He said: “Whether they voted Remain or Leave two years ago, more and more people are asking what’s the price of a Brexit that will damage the fabric of our country and what’s the point of one that means Britain would not have any increase in sovereignty.
“That is why the prospect of a no deal Brexit is sitting up in its coffin.”