What IF… We Leave with no Deal

If the Tories throw caution to the wind and somehow manage to leave the EU because they put dogma above the consequences of leaving with no deal, what will the impact of that be for us?  Below is a small account of the possible results of that action. I put this forward to reinforce why the Lib Dems are against Brexit and now (as another possibility has emerged) an exit without a deal.

Currently, there are no queues of countries enthusiastically waiting to trade with us (as the Leavers said they would be) and even if there where it will take years not months to agree on a trade deal. Going to World Trade Organisation (WTO)  tariffs will hit the poorest hard, and they are the ones who can least afford it (to quote John Major). Further HM Treasury forecasts that a collapse in talks would push the UK into recession and lead to a sharp rise in unemployment. Going to WTO rules will result in immediate customs and regulatory checks and WTO requires countries to charge the same tariffs to all countries. As a trading nation, you can’t show favour to one country as you have to treat all countries the same.

Theresa May has asked companies to start stockpiling food. The food industry employs a just in time approach to purchasing, holding and selling food products and as a sector, they have in the main sold off most of their warehouses. The capital cost of stockpiling will now be too great.

It was interesting to read the council that will be administrating the port at Dover is asking for 13 miles of motorway to be dedicated to the expected queues they feel will result for years to come. This is because there will need to be a holding area for the 10,000 lorries a day that will now require customs checks to enter the EU. Remember also that 53 per cent of British imports come from the EU,

Project lies continuing with their duplicitous ways: Dominic Raab claimed the EU would be worse off than the UK from a no-deal, but officials in his department later clarified that his comments only related to financial derivatives. Regarding the point about EU being hit hard with us leaving it should be noted that the EU27’s GDP is about $13.5 trillion compared to our $2.6 trillion. Realistically, the importance of the UK’s economy to the EU as a bloc is less than the other way around, although it would be correct to say that those who trade closely with the UK will be hit hard.

Northern Ireland is heavily reliant for there power from the Republic of Ireland, and they will see the costs of their electricity go up. The rest of the UK has as much as 40 per cent of their coal, oil and gas of its energy supply come through Norway or EU – we too will see our energy costs go up. Again the poorest, who can least afford it, will be hit the hardest.

The more you search, the more you find. You have to think for any sane person it is almost inconceivable to think about leaving the EU let alone without a deal because of the severe damage it will do to the UK. Tory dogma is going to cost the UK gravely.

Responding to new polling by BMG Research which reveals 41% of the public would blame Theresa May’s Government if Brexit talks led to a no-deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Theresa May and her ragtag Conservative party are making a mess of Brexit, and this poll shows the public know it.

“Any Brexit deal, a no-deal or otherwise, is a bad deal. Bad for our NHS, for jobs and for the environment. It is time the Labour party realised that too.

“All this mess can be avoided, however, by giving the people a final say on the deal, and an opportunity to Exit from Brexit.”




* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

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This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • David Warren 15th Aug '18 - 6:36pm

    My feeling is that all the horror stories about what will happen if we leave the EU without a deal are just another extension of Project Fear.

    Interestingly enough this sort of scaremongering goes right back to the 1975 referendum (and probably even further).

    There is a video on YouTube of Peter Shore speaking during ’75 referendum period and making reference to horror stories about food shortages etc.

    I also made a speech during that period but it was as an eleven year old schoolboy!

    I spoke for leaving the Common Market then and I voted the say way two years ago.

    That said I entered the campaign with an open mind.

    The Brexiteers convinced me with their arguments and I haven’t changed my mind.

    It saddens me that many in the Remain camp including the vast majority of Lib Dems have nailed their colours so firmly to the EU mast and seem unwilling to accept the referendum result.

    Those of us who support Liberal policies but voted to leave the EU now feel very alienated.

  • John Marriott 15th Aug '18 - 7:06pm

    The answer is, dear boy, that NOBODY REALLY KNOWS! Let’s keep it that way.

  • No one knows what will happen but divorces like this seldom end well. I expect there will be many a Brexiteer wandering round saying “Tis all the EU fault, have another turnip”. As to Brexiteers having open minds, well they certainly tend to be fact free zones.

  • Paul Reynolds 15th Aug '18 - 8:58pm

    There are times when the mischievous part of my brain rather likes these ‘Project Fear Mark 2’ claims, to be found almost daily in the Daily Mail and Express, as they play down the problems associated with ‘no deal’. It rather likes it because it encourages the rabid Brexiters in the government to push for ‘no deal’ as a way of escaping from the embassasing evaporation of all those pre-referendum promises (easiest negotiation ever, we’ll have trade deals round the world in a jiffy, lots of dosh saved in not paying for the EU any longer etc etc). The dangerous transient mischief lies in the intermittent view that Brexit will be soon cancelled (by public demand) if there is no deal. It’s not so much that the UK cannot survive without the EU; no doubt it can, although at a lower level of wealth. It is that the UK administration does not have the capacity to implement any kind of Brexit, let alone the ‘no deal’ variety. It is hard to say what will happen when the Daily Mail/Express/Times/Telegraph/Sun/Star readers collectively realise that it was not the EU holding us back, it was the EU which has been propping us iup.

  • Paul,

    How can you doubt Brexit will be a success when you see the detailed arguments put forward by their leaders and the level of detail our very own Brexiteers post. Err let me think, yep you are right it isn’t going to end well, unless faeries and unicorns really do exist (in which case I’ve slipped into a parallel dimension).

    I’m afraid I have come to the conclusion that most of them couldn’t draw a bath never mind draw up a plan. Still perhaps they are right, why plan it will be “Alright on the night, we are special you know”.

  • A very brief few days of panic, followed by claims that transition arrangements mean we haven’t really left yet, then a couple of more years of the same old same old before the whole Brexit Armageddon thing is revealed as a damp squib.

  • William Fowler 16th Aug '18 - 8:02am

    If it does really go wrong it won’t all be bad, state of emergenccy, national govn of unity led by Sir Vince, the Labour front bench go off to live in their foreign villas, etc etc…

  • What If? is a big question.
    We might not know all the details but ANY disruption between the UK and a group to which we export over 40% of our goods and services (and from which we import over 50%) isn’t going to be good news.

    The question should be “How bad will it really be?”

  • It is time that we focussed on the positive aspects of the European project. The European Union is a huge step forward in introducing democracy into international agreements. The people of Europe elect a parliament. They also elect the national governments. This step forward in democracy is hugely significant. The U.K. has prospered through this democratic institution. Unfortunately our lack of progress In even recognising the urgency of dealing with clearly dysfunctional financial institutions is causing us problems. In fact of course capitalism is in danger as capitalism depends on rules – rules enforced by independent courts. We need to discuss how to deal with the issues which will be caused by the profound changes being made in the world being caused by the President of the United States. We have the ideal democratic mechanism in the European Union to maximise our opportunities in the new world order.
    It is essential that we start a positive campaign. We need to fight for democracy.

  • Andrew Sosin 16th Aug '18 - 12:47pm

    Please can someone advise. in the event of a no deal, Could the UK have no tariifs or regulations on imported goods (As I guess the Brexiteers want)? Our exports would be subject to EU tariffs and regulations and it would be a disaster for exporters, But the Brexiters are happy for them to find new markets in the fullness of time?

  • “A very brief few days of panic… then a couple of more years of the same old same old before the whole Brexit Armageddon thing is revealed as a damp squib.”

    You can almost mind-read the “don’t panic” brigade when they write comments like this. Their inner thoughts are clearly along the lines of “Hey, don’t I look sage, don’t I look wise, when I write this stuff? Isn’t it a great feeling to be able to laugh at the poor saps who fret about boring administrative difficulties, when it’s so much easier to think of all the times when admin difficulties got sorted out at the last minute? Isn’t it good to remember the Millenium Bug, and all those other catastrophes that didn’t happen?”

    No, it isn’t wise, it’s just complacent. Yes, sometimes things end up all right on the night. Sometimes they don’t. All Northern Rail have got to do is to sort out a few admin bugs with their timetable, but somehow it isn’t happening. Brexit will involve a whole lot of interlocking admin difficulties – tariffs, regulations, safety assurance, commercial conflicts, financial disputes, logistics, all hitting us at once and with nobody ready to address them. The only wise thing to do is plan for the worst – and then, we might possibly avoid it happening.

    We’re not doing that, of course! Not while Fox, Raab and May have anything to do with it!

  • Paul Reynolds 16th Aug '18 - 2:38pm

    Hi Andrew Sosin.

    Yes the UK under WTO rules could levy zero tariffs on all goods and services coming into the country from the EU and from outside the EU. WTO rules, to which we are bound since we are a member, merely state that all exporters to the UK must be treated equally under Most Favoured Nation rules. This does not mean completely open borders for goods and services due to quality, standardisation and safety rules. It would be up to the UK to apply what regulations and safety rules to apply. The UK would not therefore be able to apply zero tariffs on EU imports but not non-EU imports, and vice versa. There would be some benefits and some disbenefits to the zero tariffs option. Benefits would be centred more on London, a predominantly pro-EU area, and disbenefits would be most felt in manufacturing regions, who, coincidentally, voted more for Brexit. Funny old world.

    Meanwhile from Open Europe; ‘The European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative MPs is planning to publish their own blueprint for a hard Brexit, The Times reports. Their plan would advocate trading with the EU solely on World Trade Organisation terms, and allow for a free trade agreement only if the EU backs down on its demands for an Irish backstop. The Times estimated that between 60 and 80 conservative MPs could support the plan’.

  • Robert (Somerset) 16th Aug '18 - 2:40pm

    I always find it somewhat curious when Remainers are criticised for not accepting the result of the 2016 referendum. I would remind the critics that we had a referendum in 1975, I was 25 at the time and remember it well, and we were told this was it, two years after joining the then common market this was to be the final decision. That decision was 60/40 to Remain in the common market and help build it to what it is now.

    However those who didn’t agree with the decision didn’t stop moaning about it for 40 years and now they’ve got their way, 52/48 to Leave, for some reason the rest of us have now got to shut up. I don’t think so!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 16th Aug '18 - 3:26pm

    Robert. I don’t think anyone in 1975 suggested that there should be another referendum after only two years!
    Of course no decision is necessarily “final” in a democracy, but I think it is usually understood that a referendum is intended to settle a matter for some considerable time – probably for a generation. Voters understand that, in view of this, they should give careful thought before casting their vote.

  • David Warren 16th Aug '18 - 4:03pm

    The referendum in 1975 was whether to stay in or leave what was then the Common Market.

    I certainly shut up after that because I had my school work to focus on!

    Then when I left at 16 I had to go looking for a job.

    In the years that followed the market evolved into something much more than a trading bloc and only really became a hot political issue in 1992 following the Maastricht Treaty.

    Yes there were always anti marketeers as they used to be called and when asked they stated there view but they were not in permanent campaign mode.

    Of course not everything about what is now the EU is negative but overall for me it is an empire that has overstretched itself and is failing.

    The Euro crisis has brought poverty to millions in Greece, Portugal and Spain.

    Free movement has driven down wages here in Britain giving employers a steady pool of cheap labour to exploit.

    Having observed the adult social care sector closely for a number of years I have seen this at first hand.

    European directives like the one on working time are ignored daily.

    Some of the most deprived working class communities voted the heaviest for Brexit nobody on the progressive wing of politics appears to want to address that.

    Instead we get lectures from arrogant politicians who are oh so much cleverer than us blue collar types telling us that we didn’t understand what we were voting for.

    No wonder people are turned off by politics or worse still voting for right wing parties post Brexit.

    My worry is that the whole issue of Europe is changing the feature of our political system.

    For the Lib Dems that is a party that is Pro EU with lots of new members who joined post referendum on that single issue.

    That is not a positive for liberalism.

  • Peter Hirst 16th Aug '18 - 4:46pm

    One question is how the Conservatives can disentangle themselves from this no deal Brexit. They are faced with a rise in UKIP poll ratings and their right wing parliamentarians. There is no guarantee that another referendum will keep us in the eu. If Labour could only see sense and bring some non-voters with them, we might find safe ground.

  • Peter Watson 16th Aug '18 - 5:14pm

    @David Raw “to rejoin the EU after Brexit would involve a host of EU obligations that we’ve had opt outs on so far.”
    Which begs the question whether or not Lib Dems would prefer to remain in the EU without those opt outs anyway, as fuller EU members. The lack of a clear vision for “Remain” as anything other than status quo is one of the ways I feel the Lib Dems in particular and the Remain campaign in general has been terribly disappointing.
    P.S. Thanks for “Morton’s fork”. I’ll add it to “Chesterton’s fence” as one of the fascinating things I’ve learnt from visiting LDV! 🙂

  • Richard Sangster 16th Aug '18 - 5:40pm

    We simply cannot afford to alienate our nearest neighbours. It will be a case of ‘Britain no mates’ or at most very few mates – not ‘Billy no mates’.

    With one exception, the remaining countries of the EU will find it far easier to adjust to the situation after Brexit than we will. The one probable exception is the Republic of Ireland. Ireland was, for many years, effectively one of Britain’s colonies. During that period, our treatment of the Irish. Are we to continue that tradition?

    How did we get to this situation? One possible reason is that we elect the principal chamber of our legislature by the first past the post system, with many members of this chamber also being members of our government. On the other hand, the European Parliament is elected by a system of proportional representation, with no member of the European Parliament, being able to be a member othe European Parliament at the same time.

  • Martin Land 16th Aug '18 - 7:04pm

    I’m sure Liam Fox will be able to do some really good trade deals for us. For instance, I’m sure we could sell more arms to Saudi Arabia, perhaps to Assad as well.

  • @expats
    Re: “What If? is a big question.
    We might not know all the details but ANY disruption between the UK and a group to which we export over 40% of our goods and services (and from which we import over 50%) isn’t going to be good news.”

    You’re forgetting, Brexit will disrupt 100% of UK overseas trade, not just the EU component – something the Brexiteers ignore or simply gloss over. I suspect because in the main (and this includes Rees-Mogg et al(*)) they are inherently lazy and expect others to do the work and hence have not bothered to acquant themselves with how the WTO operates and thus the impact of the UK leaving the EU will have on the way a non-EU country trades with the UK (ie. how it processes imports from the EU/UK and how it exports to the EU/UK).

    Which brings us to the question “How bad will it really be?”
    I suggest we need to address this in two parts, the first part is Day 1 (emergency – do anything to keep the wheels on the economy), the second is Day 2 (recovery and planning ahead)!

    As has been mention, and gets mentioned by Brexiteers, the UK can set it’s own (import) tariffs at zero if it so wishes, this might be fine as a day 1 policy but may prove to be a stick with which to beat us with on day 2 when we are wanting to negotiate trading relationships more favourable to UK interests…

    The more I look at it and at the inability of Westminster to lead, I suspect it will be bad for a good few years and be compounded by the inability of Westminster to curb its obsession with party political infighting…

    (*) I include Rees-Mogg as it is only now, over two years after the referendum are he and his mates in the European Research Group (ERG) drawing up a policy paper…

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 17th Aug '18 - 9:01am

    Martin, well at the time of the 1975 referendum, I couldn’t vote, as I was only twelve. I wouldn’t have argued that there should have been another referendum six years later just so that I could vote. But its true that I do feel that perhaps my generation shouldn’t have had to wait until we were in our fifties before we had a chance to have a say on the matter! For the record, in as far as I understood the matter in 1975, I wanted to stay in the Common Market, and I voted Remain in 2016.
    Whenever there is a referendum there will be a generation who were too young to vote. But that is not a valid reason to insist on another referendum just two years later. After all, if there was another referendum now, then how about people who were two young to vote in that referendum? Would there have to be yet another referendum after another two years, and so on for ever?

  • David Allen
    There was not a concerted effort to correct the millennium bug clock problem. There was simply a lot of panic in the press based on exaggeration. I do not consider myself sage or cynical. My point is that panic is taking hold in some quarters and, that as a transition agreement is pretty much in place for March 29, the threat of a sudden cataclysm is less likely than our often apocalyptic press would have us believe.

  • Peter Watson 17th Aug '18 - 10:51am

    @Glenn “There was not a concerted effort to correct the millennium bug clock problem. There was simply a lot of panic in the press based on exaggeration.”
    There was both.

  • It’s looking more like ‘WHEN’the UK leaves with no deal.

    Denmark and Latvia are the latest EU nations to add their concerns over the possibility (they give it a 50-50 chance).
    They agree that May’s latest offering is a basis for negotiation but, as her right wingers Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Duncan-Smith, et al believe that her offering already betrays the ‘Brexit’ demands, there seems little chance of further concessions; unless, of course, she acts in a Prime Ministerial manner (fat chance).

  • @Glenn “as a transition agreement is pretty much in place for March 29, the threat of a sudden cataclysm is less likely than our often apocalyptic press would have us believe.”

    You are forgetting it is unsigned… and it will remain unsigned until the entire Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed… Remember there are vocal individuals who seem to have influence within the Parliamentary Conservative party who want a no deal Brexit and thus leave the EU on the 29-March-2019…

  • Teresa Wilson 3rd Sep '18 - 1:21pm

    The difference between Project Fear Mk 1 and Project Fear Mk 2 is that Mk 1 was based on the reactions of businesses, the public and the global community to a leave vote.

    It was assumed that people would react much as they did in 2008, stop spending once the bad news appeared and tip the country into recession. They didn’t. The fall in the pound and the shock waves that went through the global monetary community didn’t worry Brits – buoyed up by talk of a Brexit dividend in the tabloids – half as much as the experts thought it would. So the Leave campaign won a small victory, accused Remain of ‘lying’ and hoped nobody would remember the £350 million for the NHS or the millions of Turks who were due to arrive any day.

    Mk 2 is based on things that we know will happen. We are part of multiple treaties and agreements via our membership of the EU which WILL come to an end simultaneously at 11 pm on the evening of March 29, 2019 unless we come to some kind of agreement with the EU to replace or continue them. That is a matter of international law and cannot simply be waved away with a cheerful “Oh they won’t ground our planes, too many of us go to Spain on holiday” etc, nor does it make a blind bit of difference if ‘other countries outside the EU manage just fine’ or ‘we didn’t have a problem before we joined’. These things will happen and there will be consequences of some kind. What kind will depend on the actions our government takes in the meantime – at present they seem to be going for a cross between Robinson Crusoe and the Spirit of the Blitz. This does not fill me with confidence.

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