Tory Govt Winds Down ‘No Deal’ Brexit Planning with ‘Immediate Effect’

Pro-Brexit activists demonstrate near the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 29, 2019. - British MPs on Friday rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's EU divorce deal for a third time, opening the way for a long delay to Brexit -- or a potentially catastophic "no deal" withdrawal in …
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

The Conservative government has stopped its planning for a no-deal, full and clean exit from the EU with “immediate effect,” following Prime Minister Theresa May forcing the country into another Brexit delay up to until Halloween.

Sources shared an email with British broadcaster Sky News in which the permanent secretary of a Brexit department thanked Civil Service staff for their work, saying “in common with the rest of government, we have stood down our no-deal operational planning with immediate effect.”

Implying that the decision came from the top of Government, the letter continues, “[On Thursday] morning, at a meeting chaired by the cabinet secretary, we agreed that the objective is to ensure we wind down our no-deal planning in a careful, considered and orderly way.”

According to the broadcaster’s sources, staff will be returned to their regular departments after the Easter recess, and have been ordered to leave their clean Brexit planning — which former Brexit Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said were “well advanced” — in good order should it need to be resumed at a later date.

The reports signal that the Mrs May is now certain that she will not let the UK leave on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, despite that being the legal default should London not secure an exit deal with Brussels, and that she maintains it is either her exit with her deal “or not leaving at all.”

The prime minister made the ultimatum from her sofa at Chequers in a public statement last week — the ‘choice’ solidified after a rogue Remainer-dominated Parliament voted to take over Government business and passed a law stopping no deal.

Brexiteer MPs reacted with anger that preparations for a no deal, which in the least strengthened the UK’s negotiating hand with the EU, had been wound down. Crispin Blunt described it as a “complete betrayal” of the June 2016 vote and a “dereliction of duty,” deputy chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) Steven Baker said it was “sheer spite,” while Owen Paterson called the decision “beyond stupid.”

Writing for Brexit Central, Mr Paterson said the country should “embrace” a WTO Brexit as a number of “mini-deals” have already been done, and that air travel, cross-English Channel trade, and medical supply delivery will continue, while “fears of a ‘hard’ Northern Ireland border… are now subsiding,” despite continuity Project Fear scare stories to the contrary.

“This approach would not be ‘crashing out’, as the fearmongers claim,” Mr Paterson writes. “Sensible measures, adopted in the best interests of both the UK and the EU, can mitigate any disruption and ensure that our relationships with our neighbours remain amicable and prosperous.”

With the Irish border issue resolved, the MP said “we can quickly return to the offer which [European Council President] Donald Tusk made in March last year of a wide-ranging, zero-tariff Free Trade Agreement – for the whole of the UK rather than just Great Britain.”

“In such a scenario, both sides can invoke Article XXIV of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. As long as the UK and EU agree to an FTA and notify the WTO of a sufficiently detailed plan and schedule for the FTA as soon as possible, we could maintain our current zero-tariff arrangements while the new deal was being negotiated,” he added.

Instead, the Government has confirmed that the UK will stay in the EU long enough to take part in European Parliament elections, with the Tory Party predicted to lose half of its MEPs due to the party’s failure to deliver Brexit, and the eurosceptic Nigel Farage-led Brexit Party is said to be “significantly squeez[ing]” the Conservatives in recent polling.

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