Richard Harrington, the business minister, has already said he will resign from the government if Theresa May opts for a not-deal Brexit. Other ministers, including some in cabinet, think that same, but Harrington has been the most explicit about this. And this morning, in an interview on the Today programme, he went further. He said a no-deal Brexit (something May has refused to rule out, and something which Tory Brexiters insist would be manageable, if not ideal) would be “an absolute disaster”. Asked what he thought about the prospect, he said:
You said, “Does [the prospect of no deal] bring shivers?” It does bring more than shivers, because I have examined in depth what might happen, I’m part of the government’s plans for Brexit. I’ve seen what may well happen with this cut-off date. Crashing out in my view … is an absolute disaster. It’s not a road to a free trade agreement, it’s not a road to anything. It’s an absolute disaster for the country and it’s supported by a minority of a minority of people.
Harrington said he was not just worried about the tariffs that would be in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit. He was worried about the impact of friction at the border, particularly on the car industry, which is dependent on just-in-time supply chains. He said he was “afraid” of Jaguar and Mini closing in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Claiming that the UK would be able to manage trading with the EU on WTO terms was “fanciful nonsense”, he said. And he ended the interview saying:
It says on my business card “minister for business and industry”. I’m not prepared to sell business down the river for other people’s political dogma.
All of which is just a roundabout way of illustrating how, six days after Theresa May’s Brexit deal was voted down by a record majority of 230, the government is as split as ever about what should happen next.
May has to come to the Commons this afternoon to say what she will do next. As the Guardian overnight story reports, she is expected to reject calls to forge a cross-party consensus on Brexit, choosing instead to back new diplomatic efforts in Brussels to renegotiate the Irish backstop.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative Brexiter who chairs the European Research Group, hosts his LBC phone-in.
9am: Damian Hinds, the education secretary, gives a speech to the Education World Forum.
11am: Downing Street lobby briefing.
After 3.30pm: Theresa May gives her statement to MPs about what she will do next following the defeat of her Brexit plan in the Commons last week.
As usual, I will also be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web, but I expect to be focusing mostly on Brexit. I plan to post a summary at lunchtime and another after the May statement is over, at around 6pm.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe round-up of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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