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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Is a No-Deal Brexit inevitable?

On the theme of Brexit distracting government from dealing with other pressing reforms, today's Times reports that Theresa May is to start culling Tory manifesto commitments after her cabinet decided yesterday to accelerate planning for a no-deal Brexit.

There is no majority in the House of Commons for us to leave the EU without a deal, but of course there doesn't have to be one. The law says that we leave on 29th March 2019. The only way that can be modified, extended or stopped is through legislation, and given that there does not appear to be a majority for anything else in the House of Commons either, then a no deal exit is looking more and more likely.

And that is why David Lidington, who is in effect the prime minister’s deputy, has been tasked with identifying policies to be shelved to free resources for the no-deal:

Reforms to social care have been identified by one minister as a likely casualty of yesterday’s decision, which escalated preparations across Whitehall. A Department of Health aide confirmed that some staff had already been diverted from social care to prepare.

With 100 days to go until Brexit day on March 29, businesses were told to start their own contingency plans. Households will be given further instructions on issues such as travel, medicines and banking in the coming weeks. HM Revenue & Customs will email 80,000 businesses this week to explain the impact and provide 100 pages of updated advice online on possible changes at borders.

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, announced an extra £2 billion for no-deal planning, with the Home Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and HMRC receiving the lion’s share of the cash.

So much time and money is being poured into this project at a time of rising homelessness, in-work poverty and reliance on food banks. The health service is massively under-resourced, local councils are on the verge of bankruptcy and our transport system is out-dated and congested.  Businesses are making plans to move jobs to the continent and schools are struggling to make ends meet.

If this is what 'taking back control' looks like, then they can keep it.
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