Britain’s new head of Brexit talks said the country needs to prepare for the possibility of negotiations collapsing on a new trading arrangement with the European Union once the divorce is final.
“Any responsible government must make sure we have planning in place in case of a no-deal outcome,” Dominic Raab, appointed Brexit secretary this month, told the “Andrew Marr Show” on BBC television. “We want the best deal possible.”
Britons needn’t worry about the prospect of no deal emerging, Raab said, when asked about how that might strand imports at borders, create the need to stockpile food, prevent airplanes from landing, or negate residency rights for Britons abroad or foreigners living in the UK.
While he expects to reach an accord, planning is underway in “every aspect” to make sure the country is prepared if he doesn’t, he said.
The remarks follow an interview with the Sunday Telegraph in which Raab said that the UK would refuse to pay the $51 billion divorce bill with the EU if the bloc fails to agree on a deal. Brexit is dividing the country and May’s Conservative Party, which is split between those who want a clean break with the EU and those who want to maintain closer ties.
Dominic Grieve, a Conservative member of Parliament, said on Sky News that some members of his party are “actively seeking” to leave the bloc without a new trade arrangement.
“No deal would be absolutely catastrophic,” Grieve said on the Sunday Politics show.
“If the government thinks no deal is possible, it might take emergency measures, but let’s be realistic — we will be in a state of emergency.”
The tension is also affecting the opposition Labour Party. John McDonnell, Labour’s spokesman on the economy, equivocated on whether he would support a second Brexit referendum and argued that the main contribution a Labour government could make would be to “change the whole atmosphere of the negotiations.”
Raab became Brexit secretary after David Davis resigned the post in protest against May’s divorce blueprint. Raab said he’s going back to Brussels for more negotiations on Thursday.