LEADING THE WAY OUT OF THE EU

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Tuesday 18 December 2018

The Cabinet will advise Britain’s six million businesses to start immediate preparations for a No Deal BrexitThe Sun report. The Cabinet convenes this morning for its final session before Christmas. With Brussels breaking off communications from London the government has little option but to ramp up preparations for what we voted for.

Phillip Hammond is expected to dish out £2 billion from his Brexit contingency fund. With just 101 days to go until 29 March, the government is finally treating no deal as a plausible option. Nevertheless, we cannot discount the possibility Downing Street is upping the ante to win some much-needed negotiating leverage with the EU.

No bad thing, so long as Theresa May doesn’t fawn over the slightest tweak to the wretched withdrawal agreement.

The Times confirms that No Deal preparations have been stepped up and centralised across Whitehall. Dominic Raab has pressed the Prime Minister, questioning whether “final steps on contingency planning for departure on WTO terms” were being taken. All this talk surrounding No Deal looks like an acceptance that May’s pathetic withdrawal deal will inevitably be voted down, whenever the meaningful vote is finally taken, which is why she needs something from Brussels. However, time is running out, the absolute deadline for a deal is January 21.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a motion of no confidence in Theresa May, following her statement that MPs will not vote on her Brexit deal until the week of 14 January – as late as possible. Corbyn argues the Prime Minister is leading the UK towards a “national crisis”. The motion of no confidence could be a catalyst for a general election if supported by a majority of MPs.

Unlikely. Steve Baker has said, “we accept the democratic decision of our party to have confidence in Theresa May as PM”. Jacob Rees-Mogg made similar noises on the Today programme this morning. He is first and foremost a Conservative.

The motion is a move by Corbyn to try and force his way into Number Ten.

There has been no shortage of fear tactics deployed by Remainers about the “chaos” impending if we end up with No Deal. Indeed, the terminology used by hard-line Remoaners has always been one of “crashing out”. There has been a series of hysterical headlines, with claims Britain could run out of clean drinking water or deplete important medicines in the event of a No Deal.

These unfounded fear tactics have been put to the sword by Shanker Singham, the director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs. “No Deal’s perils are greatly exaggerated” argues Mr Singham in today’s Sun.

Leaving on WTO terms would have huge repercussions for EU member states whose agricultural exporters could lose access to our markets overnight. Singham gives a comprehensive report, one by one dismissing fear tactics surrounding medicine, travel, ports and food.

He predicts that in the event of a no deal scenario, food prices will fall rather than rise. Opening our import quotas to all countries would increase competition, driving prices down.

With Theresa May unequivocal that she will not accept a second referendum, despite a chorus of whining from prominent Remainers, and her deal almost certain to be struck down, it does seem more likely than ever we are heading for a No Deal on WTO terms. This would truly deliver on the 2016 vote, but there are still many battles to be fought over the direction of Brexit.

January 21 is still a long long way away.