Re-open­ing Brexit deal holds po­ten­tial dan­gers: May

Gulf Times - - BRITAIN -

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is clear on the po­ten­tial dan­gers of re-open­ing the deal to leave the Euro­pean Union, her spokesman said yes­ter­day, adding that the with­drawal agree­ment was com­plete.

Some crit­ics of the deal are push­ing May to win more con­ces­sions from the EU to try to garner sup­port for the agree­ment in par­lia­ment, which could re­ject it in a vote on De­cem­ber 11.

The EU has said the deal is the best on of­fer.

May is also meet­ing law­mak­ers to try to win their sup­port for the deal, the spokesman said.

Ear­lier Fi­nance Min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond warned that a Brexit out­come that left a large seg­ment of the Bri­tish peo­ple feel­ing be­trayed would dam­age the coun­try more than the small eco­nomic cost of Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s pre­ferred Brexit plan.

If May loses the De­cem­ber 11 par­lia­men­tary vote on her deal it would open up pos­si­bil­i­ties that in­clude a lim­ited rene­go­ti­a­tion, Bri­tain leav­ing with no tran­si­tion deal, a new elec­tion or even a sec­ond Brexit ref­er­en­dum, although the last is some­thing May has ruled out.

Ham­mond told par­lia­ment’s Trea­sury Com­mit­tee of the dan­gers of re­ject­ing May’s plan and ei­ther not leav­ing the EU at all or abruptly break­ing most ties with the bloc.

“Any so­lu­tion which left the coun­try di­vided, left a large seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion feel­ing be­trayed, in my view, would have a neg­a­tive po­lit­i­cal im­pact and so­ci­etal im­pact that would far out­weigh the very small eco­nomic im­pact that the White Pa­per sce­nario is show­ing here,” he told the com­mit­tee.

Ham­mond said it would be “cat­a­strophic” for Bri­tain if it re­mained mired in the Brexit de­bate for years to come. “We have to re­solve this,” he said.

A gov­ern­ment anal­y­sis last week showed a plan sim­i­lar to May’s pre­ferred op­tion would cause only a small amount of eco­nomic dam­age com­pared with stay­ing in the Euro­pean Union, while a “no deal” Brexit would hurt growth more.

Sep­a­rate Bank of Eng­land anal­y­sis showed that in a worstcase “no deal” sce­nario, Bri­tain would suf­fer a sharper re­ces­sion than after the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

The BoE would prob­a­bly ex­pect the gov­ern­ment to step in to pro­vide fis­cal stim­u­lus in that sit­u­a­tion, due to its in­abil­ity to cut in­ter­est rates at a time when ster­ling would be tum­bling and in­fla­tion pres­sures mount­ing, Ham­mond said.

Years, not months, would be needed for Bri­tain’s ports to be ready to han­dle the cus­toms and reg­u­la­tory checks re­quired un­der the stan­dard World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion terms favoured by some Brexit sup­port­ers, he said.

“To be very frank with you... the plan­ning sys­tem might strug­gle to ap­prove such sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture changes in two years,” he said.

Mean­while, in Ed­in­burgh Scot­tish po­lit­i­cal par­ties yes­ter­day joined forces to show their op­po­si­tion to both May’s “dam­ag­ing” deal for leav­ing the Euro­pean Union and the pos­si­bil­ity of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The sym­bolic vote — which was not sup­ported by the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives al­lied to May — was a rare ex­am­ple of nearunity on a con­sti­tu­tional is­sue in the na­tion­al­ist-led de­volved par­lia­ment.

It also showed the level of anger about Brexit in Scot­land where most vot­ers backed stay­ing in the EU in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum.

The vote does not have any di­rect im­pact on the de­bate in Bri­tain’s par­lia­ment.

“Scot­land needs and de­serves bet­ter than the prime min­is­ter’s blind­fold Brexit,” Michael Rus­sell, Scot­land’s con­sti­tu­tional re­la­tions min­is­ter, told the cham­ber.

May’s Brexit meant “at least four more years of stag­na­tion, lack of in­vest­ment with no guar­an­tee that a free trade deal will ever be struck,” he said.

US in­vest­ment bank J P Mor­gan said the chances of Bri­tain call­ing off Brexit al­to­gether had in­creased.

As in­vestors and al­lies tried to work out the ul­ti­mate des­ti­na­tion for the world’s fifth largest econ­omy, the North­ern Ir­ish party which props up May’s gov­ern­ment said le­gal ad­vice about the deal was “dev­as­tat­ing”.

Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the North­ern Ir­ish Demo­cratic Union­ist Party, said the le­gal ad­vice proved that North­ern Ire­land would be treated dif­fer­ently to the rest of the United King­dom.

On Tues­day, just hours be­fore the start of a five-day de­bate in par­lia­ment, a top law of­fi­cial at the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice (ECJ) said Bri­tain could pull back its for­mal di­vorce no­tice.

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