Brexit: May distances herself from Hammond’s no-deal warning

Chancellor says leaving EU with no deal could cost UK £80bn in borrowing to 2033

MPs could vote on leaving the European Union without seeing a full analysis of the likely economic impact of a no-deal Brexit, Downing Street has suggested. Theresa May sought on Tuesday to distance herself from chancellor Philip Hammond's warning that leaving the EU without a deal could cost Britain £80 billion in extra borrowing to 2033.

Speaking to reporters before she arrived in South Africa, the prime minister described treasury forecasts about a no-deal Brexit as "a work in progress". Her official spokesman said MPs would receive an economic analysis of any deal they were voting on but declined to confirm that they would be given an assessment of the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

“The government will provide parliament with that meaningful analysis on the deal, ahead of the vote,” the spokesman said. “I’m not going to get into what the precise nature of the analysis will look like, but once the deal is negotiated, MPs will then be presented with that analysis ahead of the final vote.”

No-deal advice

The British government last week published the first tranche of more than 80 technical notices on the possible impact of a no-deal Brexit for specific sectors and economic activities. The treasury has not yet published an overall economic impact analysis of a no-deal Brexit but Mr Hammond said he expected it to show a damaging effect on the economy and public finances.


Ms May said on Tuesday that leaving the EU without a deal “wouldn’t be a walk in the park” but she added that it would not be the end of the world.

"Look at what the director of the World Trade Organisation has said. He said about a no-deal situation that it would not be a walk in the park but it wouldn't be the end of the world," she said.

“What the government is doing is putting in place the preparations such that if we’re in that situation we can make a success of it, just as we will make a success of the good deal I believe we’re able to get and the good deal we’re working to get.”

Abandon Chequers

Brexiteers on the Conservative backbenchers have urged the prime minister to abandon her Chequers proposal, which would keep Britain in the EU's single market for goods but not for services. French president Emmanuel Macron this week appeared to reject the proposal, which has received a tepid response in Brussels.

"France wants to maintain a strong, special relationship with London but not if the cost is the unravelling of the European Union," he said.

Ms May and her cabinet say they remain committed to the Chequers proposal but the prime minister on Tuesday restated her assertion that no deal would be better than a bad deal.

"I think it's absolutely right that the government is putting the preparations in place for no deal because we don't know what the outcome of this is going to be. But alongside that what we're doing is working for a good deal. I believe what we've set out in the Chequers arrangement, set out in the White Paper, is a deal that benefits not just the United Kingdom but benefits the European Union as well," she said.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times