All sides must fight to avoid such a resultby Michael Jay / December 13, 2017 / Leave a comment
On the 7th of December, the House of Lords EU Select Committee, of which I am acting chair, published the latest in its series of over 20 reports on Brexit, entitled “Brexit: deal or no deal.” This report explored the consequences of “no deal”—the failure of the UK and the EU to reach agreement on either withdrawal or future relations.
The overwhelming view of our expert witnesses was that “no deal” would be deeply damaging for the UK. It would not just be economically disruptive, but would bring UK-EU cooperation on issues such as counter-terrorism, nuclear safeguards, data exchange and aviation to a sudden halt. It would necessitate the imposition of controls on the Irish land border, and would also leave open the critical question of citizens’ rights.
Against this backdrop, we concluded that the government’s assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal” was not helpful. It is difficult to envisage a worse outcome for the United Kingdom than “no deal.”
Twenty-four hours after our report was published, Prime Minister Theresa May and President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that an agreement had been reached on the first stage of Brexit negotiations, on withdrawal. The European Commission can recommend to the European Council that sufficient progress has been made on issues of citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and Ireland, and the financial settlement, in order to proceed to the second stage: discussion of future UK-EU relations. The prime minister showed her tenacity in securing this agreement: as we know, talks have not been smooth sailing.