As the government continues its slide to the right and the cabinet hasn’t yet begun to negotiate seriously, internal communications indicate embattled Prime Minister Theresa May is to cave in to the demands of Brexiteers and lead Britain out of the EU on a no deal basis. Lords warn of political crisis.
A Westminster source has revealed concerns Theresa May is “due to capitulate to the demands of the hard-right Brexiteers and take the country out the EU with no deal, securing the worst case outcome as per the government’s own, conservative, impact assessments.”
According to the source, “internal communications indicate this is due to transpire shortly.”
The Cabinet Office, Downing Street, and the Department For Exiting the European Union (DXEU) all refused to comment, passing requests between each other. “If it’s to do with May, it’s definitely Downing Street,” the DXEU press officer told me on Friday night, after Downing Street had asked me to contact them rather than Number 10.
May’s own government impact assessments, recently leaked after a series
of refusals to make them public, show a no deal Brexit would be
disastrous for Britain, reducing GDP by at least 8% overall,
substantially increasing living costs, and causing around 3 million job
losses. Key leave voting areas would be worst affected, with impact on GDP up to 16%
In the House Of Lords, where May’s Withdrawal Bill has been heavily criticised along with the Government’s approach to Brexit, response to the news raised concerns of a looming political crisis.
While a final vote on the deal is included within proposed, cross-party amendments and includes a specific definition of ‘no deal’ as falling within the legal definitions, this must first win votes in the Lords and then be returned to the Commons for MPs to agree. In the House of Commons the Government has made no real losses on Brexit so far.
When Labour voted with May’s Government to trigger Article 50 in 2017, no provision was made within the act for a vote on the final deal, resulting in a situation where a clock is the only check and balance. In March 2019, the UK leaves the EU whether there is a deal or not.
Peers expressed concerns May could easily walk away from negotiations at any time before the Withdrawal Bill is ratified, though this could cause chaos in the Commons – either fracturing May’s Government or even triggering a second rushed referendum. A general election is the least likely outcome. In any scenario the UK would lose focus on negotiations while the Brexit clock would continue to count down regardless.
The political landscape and current news events support the information – from the increasingly vocal WTO push of
leadership contender Rees-Mogg, to the DUP’s refusal to accept anything
but the hardest of Brexit scenarios around the Irish Border issue.
A year ago, another source made an early claim May’s intention was to walk away from negotiations blaming “EU intransigence” after the German elections had concluded, adding later that neither devolution nor citizens rights were guaranteed, which they have not been.
The term “EU intransigence” has since become commonplace in hard brexit rhetoric aimed at a European negotiating team who are increasingly frustrated with Britain’s failure to even begin serious talks.
The EU has made clear there are only 13
months until Britain drops out of the EU and any deal has to be agreed
by October in order to be agreed by all 27 member states.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally manages to secure a coalition following a
tumultuous election, a no deal move by May appears increasingly likely.