South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay has ‘denounced’ a Brexit report drawn up by a committee he sits on, branding it as “more Project Fear.”
The pro-Leave MP says he “has denounced” the report from the Exiting the EU Committee which responds to the rejection of Prime Minster Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement for the imminent departure of the UK from the European Union on March 29.
The committee says a ‘managed no deal’ cannot constitute the policy of any responsible Government.
It adds: “We are deeply concerned about the readiness of business, particularly small businesses, for a no-deal exit. Brexit was always going to lead to change for business with a range of new challenges but also opportunities. However, businesses have had no certainty about what to prepare for and, in the event of a no-deal exit would face an abrupt change in trading circumstances which would represent a cliff edge for many—an abrupt change which concerned our predecessor committee two years ago for which, it is clear, many businesses have not prepared.
“The Government’s belated efforts to engage with business and provide some form of guidance is unlikely to be sufficient to mitigate the worst effects of a no-deal exit for businesses because it is being provided so late in the day, many smaller businesses do not have the capacity to fully engage with what is required and because so much of that guidance is based on assumptions about how the EU might respond in a no-deal scenario which could turn out to be unjustified.”
In its 76-page report the committee also raises concerns over trading tariffs, particularly on cars and agricultural goods, and non-tariff barriers that they say would be faced by exporters of goods under WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules.
However, Mr Mackinlay says a Plan B must be made and WTO terms are the most effective route.
He said: “This is just more Project Fear from a group of MPs who have never wanted the UK to leave the EU.
“If the truth be known, what these MPs really want is for the outcome of the 2016 in/out referendum to be overturned.
“There was never any doubt that the draft Withdrawal Agreement would be rejected by the House of Commons because the deal on offer by the EU was a poor one and never passed scrutiny as the proper Brexit voted for by 17.4m people.
“The Plan B must now be for a comprehensive Free Trade Deal, often called the Canada Plus, that was offered in March last year and to finally put aside the non-issue of the Irish border.
“That said, a managed No Deal, trading under tried and tested World Trade Organisation terms, whilst suboptimal, unequivocally delivers Brexit.
“No business would enter into negotiations without being prepared to walk away. Losing the WTO Brexit option would only weaken our position and so it must be an option.”
The committee says the House could decide that the Political Declaration in the agreement should be amended to provide clarity on a shared understanding between the UK and the EU.
This would require re-negotiation which would, most likely, require an extension of the Article 50 process.
The PM’s Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration deal for exiting the EU was rejected on January 15 by 432 votes to 202 not to approve.