‘UK pre­pares con­tin­gency plans for no-deal Brexit pos­si­bil­ity’

New Straits Times - - Business -

Bri­tain is draw­ing up con­tin­gency plans in case its Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Euro­pean Union (EU) fail, a min­is­ter said yes­ter­day as spec­u­la­tion mounted that the with­drawal process could start this week.

Brexit min­is­ter David Davis said it was in “ev­ery­body’s in­ter­ests that we get a good out­come”, but said the gov­ern­ment was “plan­ning for the con­tin­gency, all the var­i­ous out­comes”.

He was speak­ing after MPs warned that min­is­ters must pre­pare for the pos­si­bil­ity that, with EU treaties al­low­ing just two years to agree a new re­la­tion­ship, Bri­tain might well leave with­out a deal.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has said she was op­ti­mistic about set­tling the di­vorce and a new trade agree­ment with the EU within the time­frame, but would walk away rather than ac­cept a bad deal.

The cross-party par­lia­men­tary for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee said this “rep­re­sents a very de­struc­tive out­come lead­ing to mu­tu­ally as­sured dam­age for the EU and the UK”, cit­ing eco­nomic losses and le­gal con­fu­sion.

Davis told the BBC he did not think that was “re­motely likely”.

A bill em­pow­er­ing May to trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU's Lis­bon Treaty and be­gin the with­drawal process re­turns to the House of Com­mons to­day for de­bate.

With­out fur­ther op­po­si­tion, it could pass the House of Lords that night. After it is rub­ber­stamped by Queen El­iz­a­beth II, May could start Brexit at any point.

Asked when the process might start, Davis said “in the­ory it’s the point at which you have royal as­sent”.

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