Jacob Rees-Mogg has said the government will “appear fretful, weak, and incompetent” if it fails to prepare for a “no deal” clean Brexit, as they are accused of pushing “project fear” so the public will back a softer Brexit.
Theresa May’s government is expected to publish a series of documents over the summer setting out how leaving the European Union (EU) on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, without a trade deal, will affect trade.
Sources who have seen the documents, however, told The Telegraph they only highlight how the UK will be hit, rather than exploring the damage that could be done to the EU if they fail to agree on a trade deal with Britain — one of its largest trading partners.
Mrs May was accused of whipping up “panic” among MPs, the public, and businesses in an intentional attempt to push them into accepting her widely unpopular Chequers plan for a “soft” Brexit.
She was also slammed for taking a “kamikaze” approach to Brexit and leading Eurosceptics said her plan represents “Project Fear Mark II” aimed at deliberately highlighting the negatives of a clean divorce in a bid to “discredit” a “no-deal” Brexit.
A Cabinet source told The Telegraph: “It is designed by No 10 to do the opposite of what Brexiteers want. We could have made a strong case for no deal and said we were prepared. The way they are presenting it makes it look like Armageddon.
“It is a kamikaze approach to no-deal. The truth is, it’s total chaos. They are deliberately trying to make no-deal look bad.
“It’s a fallacy to say it will be a total disaster. It won’t. We need to highlight the risk for the European Union, the negatives for them.”
PM’s Bureaucrats Officially Take Charge of Brexit Talks, Brexit Department Snubbed https://t.co/Ap8D6yq0Cu
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 24, 2018
Mr Rees-Mogg, the leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group for Tory MPs, also waded into the debate, telling The Sunday Times:
“The PM has said for a long time that no deal is better than a bad deal,” he said. “If the Government cannot now show that it can deliver a workable deal based on WTO terms then it is not competent.
“It is not a good look for the Government to appear fretful, weak and incompetent, but this seems to be the way it is approaching the idea of leaving on WTO terms.”
Some alarmist claims have also suggested the government will have to stockpile food and medical supplies and even use the army if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal.
On the use of the army, one minister told The Sunday Times that this was common in civil contingency planning, adding: “That’s not frightening the horses, it’s just being utterly realistic.”
Meanwhile, Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister who quit over the Chequers plan, said the government was working against a clean Brexit and demanded it publish documents highlighting how the EU would be harmed.
He said: “It seems clear to me that the Government machine is working towards offering Parliament Chequers and Remain.
“I want the Prime Minister to make announcements which reinforce the credibility and feasibility of exiting the EU with nothing agreed.”
Pro-Brussels Ministers Collude with Big Business to Scare Cabinet Off Backing Clean Brexit https://t.co/E0djc447e2
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 4, 2018