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Leaving the EU: No Deal

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 13 March 2019

If you will indulge me for 30 seconds, Mr Speaker, I would like to apologise on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office for his absence from the Chamber. As I think you know, he has a commitment that means that I am taking his place today.

I say to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Gill Furniss) that we have published over 300 items of no-deal content and we have broadcast across some 200 commercial radio stations. The Cabinet Office is facilitating the redeployment of staff between Departments, and it is co-ordinating contingency planning through established structures.

It was announced overnight that the Government plan to slash tariffs on the majority of products imported from outside the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Such a move would mean cheaper steel imports, with business saying that that could destroy our steel sector and our manufacturing sector more broadly. What consultation did the Government undertake with the steel sector before the announcement?

The temporary tariff regime aims to minimise costs to business and mitigate price impacts on consumers while supporting UK producers. I stress again that that is a temporary scheme, and business will be consulted over the first 12 months.

This morning, right hon. and hon. Members and I were serving on a statutory instrument Committee. Along the Committee corridor, there are SI Committees almost every day, preparing not only for a deal-Brexit but for a no-deal Brexit. Can I tell my right hon. Friend that we are prepared, in my view?

My hon. Friend makes a very good point. As the Government have said consistently over the past couple of years, we are working so that we are prepared, whatever the outcome. The legislative default for this Parliament is to leave without a deal, if we do not agree a deal.

The country is hanging on to a no-deal cliff edge. Today, we read about the Government’s latest brilliant idea: a ludicrous TV advert telling the public, from Friday onwards, “Don’t panic”, which is a bit like Corporal Jones in “Dad’s Army”. However, this is not the Home Guard in the 1940s, and the prospect of thousands of job losses and shortages of food, medicine and so on are no joke. We can prevent this. Today, the Commons will take control from the Government to prevent such a disastrous scenario. Will the Minister join us?

I find it somewhat ironic that the hon. Gentleman, along with his colleagues, is talking about preparation—the previous question was about preparation too—but complains that we are preparing the public for what may happen on 29 March. The simple answer is that he and his colleagues should have voted with us last night to make sure that we left the EU with a deal.