Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is refusing to provide funds to prepare Britain for a ‘No Deal’ scenario after Brexit, raising suspicions that the Remain faction in Government is setting the country up to fail.
The Treasury chief — dubbed ‘Remainer Phil’ by colleagues — conceded that it was his duty as Chancellor to “ensure that we are prepared for all outcomes, including a no-deal scenario” in an article for The Times.
“The government and the Treasury are prepared,” he insisted, adding that his department was “planning for every outcome” — before slipping in a crucial caveat: “[W]e will find any necessary funding and we will only spend it when it’s responsible to do so.”
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) July 20, 2017
If European Union officials — accused of plotting to sabotage talks with Britain in order to discourage other EU member-states from leaving the bloc by insiders — are able to kill off the prospects of a UK/EU departure agreement, then the two parties would revert to trade under standard World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms in 2019.
On the face of things, this would not be the disaster many Remain-leaning figures and media outlets have portrayed it as: research indicates British exports would face tariffs of only £5.2 billion or so, and could be amply compensated using the £12.9 billion which would be raised from British tariffs on EU exporters, without breaking global state aid rules.
Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó has warned that the EU would suffer most from ‘No Deal’, as new British trade deals with countries like the U.S. and Australia would damage EU businesses’ competitiveness in the UK market, while senior German MEP has Hans-Olaf Henkel has implored colleagues: “[We] should be the country saying, ‘For Christ’s sake, give [the UK] the best trade deal possible’.”
‘No Deal’ Brexit would require some advance preparations, however, with increased personnel to handle customs and immigration, tweaks to the management of air traffic, and so on — and this is what Mr Hammond seems unwilling to provide for while negotiations are ongoing.
The Times indicates that the Chancellor believes this would be irresponsible while the Government are still working toward an official agreement, but critics say that the longer he waits to prepare for ‘No Deal’, the less viable an option it becomes — and the longer the “uncertainty” which Hammond warns against will persist, with businesses unclear as to what the ‘No Deal’ arrangements might be postponing or even cancelling investments in Britain.
“As the old saw goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail,” commented Ray Finch MEP, UKIP’s foreign affairs spokesman.
“You cannot trust this Government with Brexit, and in particular you cannot trust this Chancellor with anything to do with it. He should go.”