Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake has said that, if the Chequers deal isn’t accepted by the EU, Remainers from all parties could unite against a no-deal situation.
Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on the talkRADIO breakfast show, Brake said that leaving the EU without a deal “wouldn’t get through parliament”, but admitted he didn’t think Chequers was “much better”.
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“One of the big concerns of Downing Street - I’ve been speaking to senior figures there - if they don’t get some sort of deal, they’ll end up with no deal,” said Hartley-Brewer.
“And the prospect of no deal will mean MPs like you will join forces - Liberal Democrats, Remainers in the Tory party, the SNP, the Labour benches - and you’ll try to delay Article 50, you’ll try and force a vote on a second referendum. That is a big fear - they say any deal is better than that.”
'No deal won't get through parliament'
“I agree that if the Prime Minister leaves us in a position where no deal is the only thing she’s leaving on the table, yes, she will have a parliamentary revolt that will unite Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour,” Brake agreed.
“I suspect that that will be a majority - the Prime Minister has done a very good job in the past few weeks in the technical notes that have been issued, of setting out exactly what the consequences of no deal would be.
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“They would be extremely severe for the UK economy. Long delays at Dover, the health minister telling pharmaceutical companies to start stockpiling medicines in the case of no deal - that is what the government are saying would be the impact of no deal. She wouldn’t get that through parliament.”
Brake was referring to the technical notices released by the government so far, which laid out contingency plans should Chequers not be accepted by the EU.
'Subservients to the EU'
Stuart Jackson, who also joined Brake and Hartley-Brewer on air, said it was a “myth” the government were planning for no deal, and that the plans referred to trading on World Trade Organisation terms.
“Tom and the Liberal Democrats would never accept any deal because they’re slavish subservients to everything to do with the European Union,” Jackson said.
“They’re totally out of step with the public, because despite different iterations of project fear that we’ve seen in the last two years, the dial has not shifted, the public are still committed to a clean Brexit.”
The two guests agreed, though, on their opposition to Chequers, albeit for different reasons - Jackson felt it kept the UK too close to the EU, while Brake said it didn't do enough to protect services as well as goods.
'Chequers not much better'
Brake retorted by saying that even those who voted Leave didn’t want no deal.
“If you were to ask those same people now, if the Prime Minister was leaving no deal on the table and only no deal - when you voted in 2016, did you expect there to be 15-mile tailbacks at Dover, stockpiling of medicines, the possibility of the army having to be deployed and the police planning for civil disturbances - I imagine most of them would have said no,” he said.
However, he added that Chequers was not acceptable to him either.
“I don’t want to oversell the risks of no deal and lead people into believing that the Chequers deal will be that much better, it isn’t,” he said.
“t doesn’t do anything on services which is an integral part of the EU market.”