An audience member on the BBC’s Brexit Question Time special fears the Government is living in “cloud cuckoo land” by thinking it can achieve a better trade deal after quitting the EU.
Ahead of triggering Article 50 on Wednesday, the broadcaster’s Monday night one-off underlined the hopes and fears of politicians and the public.
Early on, Brexit Secretary David Davis was confronted over whether the UK would quit the union without a new agreement, meaning it would have to swallow higher tariffs as it reverts to World Trade Organisation member rules.
One member of the Birmingham audience took the minister to task over getting a better deal than at present. He said:
“All we’re hearing from the Leave side is cloud cuckoo land. You expect us to walk from the EU, pay no money, but still get unrestricted access to a single market. If that’s not going to be the case why is anyone in the EU? Surely they’ll all walk away and get unrestricted access.”
The man, who works in the car industry, went on to suggest the Government should “own up and say it’s going to hurt”, adding:
“I’m worried if we walk away without a deal suddenly 10% tariffs get slapped on every single car coming out of this country. What’s to stop factories moving production abroad? We already have to fight for every model.”
In response to criticism, Davis said leaving the EU with no deal would not be as bad as critics warn, and the government has planned for this. “We have got a huge contingency plan exercise across all of these issues, every department of government,” he said.