'Catastrophic' no-deal Brexit would 'crash the economy', Tory business minister admits

'No deal is a recipe for a catastrophic series of consequences. It’s also a way of crashing the economy'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 02 October 2018 12:29 BST
No deal Brexit 'a recipe for a catastrophic series of consequences,' says Tory MP Claire Perry

Business minister Claire Perry has broken ranks to warn that a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” and “a way of crashing the economy”.

Theresa May and other cabinet ministers have insisted the UK can prosper even if it crashes out of the EU without an agreement – insisting that remains an option.

But Ms Perry said: “No deal is a recipe for a catastrophic series of consequences.

“It’s also a way of crashing the economy and of doing great damage to our most productive industries.”

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Perry agreed the UK had to be ready for the danger of crashing out, saying: “We have to be prepared for it and we are preparing for it.”

Nevertheless, her warning undermines the prime minister’s determination to claim the UK is seriously contemplating a no-deal – something widely seen as a bluff on the continent.

They also mark the very different approach of the business department, headed by Greg Clark, who – at the weekend – insisted a Brexit agreement is essential.

The comments are a far cry from Ms May’s continued insistence, repeated after the EU threw out her Chequers plan, that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

Other senior ministers, led by Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, and Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, have argued Britain could “thrive” after crashing out, after initial disruption.

Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman and supporter of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group, said: "Claire Perry speaks the inconvenient truth, No deal would be a disaster for the UK.

"But she must be just as candid in admitting that Chequers would be nearly as damaging. That is why we need a final say on the deal and a chance to exit from Brexit."

Ms Perry was a strong Remain supporter, who hit the headlines in February 2017, when she branded hard Brexit supporters in the Tory party “like jihadis”.

She said the atmosphere of the Brexit debate “sometimes borders on the hysterical”, but returned to government a few months later nonetheless.

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