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Contingency Plans

Volume 645: debated on Thursday 19 July 2018

20. What contingency plans his Department is making in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. (906555)

We have made significant progress in negotiations and are confident that we will secure a deal with the European Union. However, as a responsible Government, we are continuing to prepare for all possible outcomes.

There has been recent press speculation that the Government are considering emergency measures that would include the stockpiling of food and medicines. Will the Minister confirm whether that is accurate? If so, what would be the proposals for the distribution of those stockpiles?

Departments’ plans are well developed and designed to respond to all scenarios, including the unlikely possibility that we leave the EU without a deal. Some contingency plans have already become evident and more will become public over the coming weeks.

If, in the end, there is no deal, can my hon. Friend assure me that the Government’s contingency plans will take into account often overlooked areas, such as Clacton?

Clacton, Mr Speaker, is never overlooked by its Member of Parliament.

The Government are engaging with businesses and other stakeholders in every region of the United Kingdom in order to understand the challenges and opportunities that may have an impact on them. Later this year we will consult on the new UK shared prosperity fund, which will give us an opportunity to consider carefully how we should address barriers to growth and tackle inequalities faced by all parts of the country, including rural and coastal areas such as my hon. Friend’s Clacton constituency.

The Government’s own analysis shows that no deal would be a financial disaster, and this week the Governor of the Bank of England warned that a no deal Brexit would have “big economic consequences” for the UK. The White Paper was a sham: it just talked about “exploring options”. Does the Minister agree that the Government need to do a lot more than explore options, and that they should work hard to secure a deal, rather than facing a no deal scenario?

Obviously we would much rather have a very good deal with the European Union than not, and most of the work in my Department is focused on that, but we must prepare for every scenario. As for the gentleman whom the hon. Gentleman quoted, let me finish that quotation by saying that the financial consequences for the EU would be far greater.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his new position. There is absolutely no one whom I would rather see in his job at this time, and I wish him every possible success.

Papers that are available to my hon. Friend will show that as long ago as October, I was seeking to create a parliamentary moment to galvanise the whole Government to prepare not only for the unwanted contingency of no deal, but for all scenarios, including the end of the implementation period. Will he now use the collective agreement reached at Chequers to go out and galvanise the whole Government to deliver, in the knowledge that that is not something that the Department for Exiting the European Union can direct, and that it will require those at the very top of the Government to mobilise every Department?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and for leaving me an unbelievable quantity of reading to do because of the diligent way in which, as he rightly says, he prepared for every scenario.

I welcome the Secretary of State and the Minister to their elevation to the governing classes. Given that the Minister’s predecessor has now chosen to reveal some of what was in unpublished Cabinet papers, I hope we can expect to see the rest published quite soon.

Today Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary for England and Wales warned police forces that they need to be ready for an increase in hate crime after we leave the European Union. Does that take the Government by surprise?

I had not heard about that particular report, so I cannot comment on it. What I can say is that, in preparing for no deal, we have already recruited 300 extra staff to police our borders, and we have an ongoing programme to recruit a whole load more.

With the greatest respect, hate crime is not committed by people who cross our borders to come here; it is committed by people who are already here, all too often provoked by irresponsible and inflammatory language from those who really should know much better. I ask the Minister again: did the Government realise before the publication of today’s report that Brexit—intentionally or unintentionally—would create a climate in which hate crime was more likely to take place?

I am afraid that I do not recognise the basis for the hon. Gentleman’s question—I do not believe that in the slightest. I can only point out to him that a group of people called the “cybernats” were not particularly pleasant in the run-up to the Scottish referendum.

Crashing out with no deal looks increasingly likely, particularly as former members of the Government have stated that they intend to undermine a deal. What is needed now is a plain English guide to the consequences of no deal for individuals, families, communities and businesses. Will the Minister commit himself to publishing such a guide so that people can see the consequences and step away from the edge of the cliff?

As my—right hon. Friend? [Interruption.] It is only a matter of time; everything comes to those who wait.

As my hon. Friend knows, because she chairs the Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister said yesterday that a whole bunch of technical notices would be produced for exactly that purpose.

We have already heard a great deal about no deal and potential problems at Dover. What are the Government’s plans in respect of the second busiest roll-on/roll-off port in the UK, which is Holyhead?

The Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), has already met representatives from Holyhead. I look forward to travelling around the country, visiting such places and listening to what people have to say.