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Why no deal planning should be stepped up

1 December 2018

10:38 AM

1 December 2018

10:38 AM

No-go-day was meant to be yesterday, I say in The Sun. This was the moment when the Department for Exiting the EU wanted the principal purpose of government to become getting the country ready for leaving the EU regardless of whether there was a deal or not.

Number 10 argued that a vaguer deadline of late November / early December was better. They thought that this would give more time to tell whether full on ‘no deal’ prep was necessary or not.

But now, Number 10 is indicating that it wants to hold off until after the meaningful vote on the 11th of December.

This is not a good idea, though. Those inside the machine estimate that it would take four months of intense preparations to get this country into a place where it could make no deal manageable. So, by waiting until after the meaningful vote, the government is denying itself valuable time.

I understand that the new Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, who will update Cabinet on ‘no deal’ preparedness on Tuesday, is frustrated at Number 10 foot dragging. A growing number of other ministers share this concern.

Theresa May, of course doesn’t want no deal. She wants parliament to approve the deal she has negotiated. But, right now, it is hard to see how it passes.

Given that if the withdrawal agreement is defeated and nothing is put in its place, and this country leaves the EU without a deal, it is foolish not to massively intensify planning for that outcome.

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