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Leaving the EU: Contingency Planning

Volume 651: debated on Wednesday 19 December 2018

1. What discussions his Department is having with stakeholders on contingency planning for the UK leaving the EU without a deal. (908294)

The Government’s policy is for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union with a negotiated deal. Individual Departments are responsible for briefing businesses and other interested parties about contingency planning for all eventualities, and the Cabinet Office is co-ordinating contingency planning across Whitehall.

Will my right hon. Friend give details of which Departments have been allocated moneys for no-deal preparation, how much, and the spending timescales?

My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced yesterday details of a £2 billion planned spend for 2019-20. These moneys would be available for either a no-deal or a deal scenario. The largest recipient Departments are the Home Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for International Trade.

In the event of no deal, we read in the press that the Government are going to inform the public about what they should do to prepare for it. Will the Minister outline for us what exactly the Government will say to the public of this country about how they should prepare for no deal?

As I said in my earlier response, it will be for the Secretary of State in each Department to determine what forms of communication are necessary to businesses or the wider public. I say to the hon. Gentleman that the message that we get back again and again from the general public is that they want Members of Parliament from both sides of the House to get on and agree the deal that is on the table.

With reports of DEFRA making contingency plans to slaughter a large amount of livestock, what reassurance can be given to livestock breeders in my constituency looking at a no-deal Brexit?

I think it unavoidable that, given the World Trade Organisation’s standard tariffs for livestock trade and the position of third countries in relation to the EU’s legal requirement for phytosanitary checks and inspections, there will be difficulties for our livestock exporters in the event of no deal. That is another reason for the House to agree the deal that is available.

After last week’s shambles, we are now 100 days away from our scheduled departure from the EU without having voted on any deal in the House. We are now staring at a cliff-edge no-deal exit, which would be damaging not only for our economy, but potentially for our national security. In the event of no deal, with what assurances can the Minister provide the House that the Government have discussed with stakeholders our continued security partnership with the EU, including on cyber-related matters?

The Home Office and other Departments with the responsibilities for security interests are in constant touch with the police and other relevant agencies about those matters. I say to the hon. Lady, as I have said to others in the House, that what is needed is for every Member in the House to take seriously his or her responsibility and not to keep ducking the question—[Interruption.] The challenge that she has to answer is that if she does not like the deal that has been negotiated with the 27 Governments of the EU, what is her alternative and that which the Opposition are proposing?