Govt Criticised for Stoking ‘Apocalyptic Fears’ over Clean Break from EU

Pro-European Union demonstrators protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London against the first vote today on a bill to end Britain's membership of the EU on September 11, 2017. - MPs hold their first vote today on a bill to end Britain's membership of the EU, which ministers …

Leading Brexit campaigners have said that the Government is sparking “apocalyptic fears” over the prospect of MPs voting against the prime minister’s Withdrawal Agreement and the UK making a clean break from the EU.

Writing in a paper published Monday entitled ’30 Truths About Leaving on WTO Terms’, Conservative peer Peter Lilley of Global Britain and Councillor Brendan Chilton of Labour Leave said that to break the House of Commons deadlock over the Irish backstop in Theresa May’s deal the United Kingdom should push for a Canada-style free trade deal.

However, if the EU is unwilling to renegotiate such terms, the Government should leave without a formal agreement — “No Deal” — and revert to the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), of which Britain is already a member.

Lord Lilley and Cllr Chilton point out that leaving on “WTO+++” terms would mean not only saving £39 billion from the divorce bill envisaged in Mrs May’s deal, but also end the “corrosive economic and political uncertainty” of the two-year transition period, resolve the Irish border issue “by administrative measures without need for a backstop – as all parties have promised in the event of ‘no deal'”, and continue to trade with the EU on zero-tariff rates for up to a decade whilst negotiating a “Canada+++” trade agreement, as permitted under WTO Article 24.

The Brexiteers debunked scare stories perpetuated by Remain politicians and establishment media by explaining that in the event of a WTO exit Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC )and the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs MRC (DEFRA) will not need to carry checks on all goods at the border, but only on goods if there is a perceived risk — with HMRC saying it will “prioritise flow over compliance” to prevent long queues at ports.

“Remain campaigners talk of chaos, catastrophe and Armageddon,” the authors wrote, and compared the “apocalyptic fears about leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement” to the hysteria which surrounded the Millenium Bug.

Economist Roger Bootle also wrote in The Telegraph on Sunday that the scare stories surrounding the Brexit debate echo those of europhiles who pushed for Britain to join the Eurozone 30 years ago, when then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, big business, and the mainstream media forecast economic disaster.

“Does this ring a bell?” Mr Bootle wrote. “It should – an alarm bell. Now we stand on the brink of another momentous decision. And the same people are still peddling the same sort of nonsense.”

Mr Chilton and Lord Lilley also criticised broadcasters for “cast[ing] aside their Ofcom obligations to balance and impartiality” by using loaded, anti-Brexit phrases to describe a WTO exit without a Withdrawal Agreement as “falling off a cliff-edge” or “crashing out”.

“In addition, this time the Government is clearly determined to play up the supposed horrors of leaving with no Withdrawal Agreement in the hope of persuading MPs to vote for the EU’s unloved draft ‘deal’.

“The government is in the bizarre position of preparing to leave on WTO terms, while pretending that its preparations will be unsuccessful,” they added.

Members of Parliament are returning to the House of Commons this week to begin debating Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, with one Cabinet source saying “no-one at the moment thinks she will win the vote.”

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