Brexit: ‘No deal better than bad deal’ unsubstantiated, MPs say

The cross-party Exiting the EU Committee has published a report warning that the government’s assertion that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, is unsubstantiated.

The committee warned that without an economic assessment of 'no deal' having been done and without evidence that steps are being taken to mitigate what would be the damaging effect of such an outcome, the claim is unsupported.

The report urged the government to set out what contingency planning is taking place for the risk that there is ‘no deal’ at the end of the Article 50 negotiating period and undertake an economic and legal assessment of such an outcome – in which the UK would fall back on trading under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Hilary Benn MP, chair of the Exiting the European Union Committee, explained: “The UK is about to enter into enormously important and complex negotiations covering trade, customs rules, access to the single market, security and foreign policy co-operation and the rights of UK and EU citizens at home and abroad. We all want the best possible deal for the UK but what we are able to secure will ultimately depend on what the 27 Member States are prepared to agree to.

“The government is right to try and negotiate both the divorce settlement and a new trading relationship in tandem, but it should also be prepared for the worst case – i.e. that a new trade agreement is not reached or ratified by the day we leave – because the timescale allowed by Article 50 is particularly tight.

“The government should conduct a thorough assessment of the economic, legal and other implications of leaving the EU without a deal in place. The public and Parliament have a right to the maximum possible information about the impact of the different future trading options being considered. Without an economic impact assessment of 'no deal' and without evidence that steps are being taken to mitigate the damaging effect of such an outcome, the government's assertion that 'no deal is better than a bad deal' is unsubstantiated. Parliament must be in an informed position to decide whether a proposed deal is, in fact, better or worse than no deal.

Benn concluded: “Leaving the EU without a future trade deal and in doing so defaulting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules is no less an important decision for the UK's economic future than the terms of any future Free Trade
Agreement between the UK and the EU. It is therefore essential that such a step is not taken without Parliament having a vote on the matter."

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