30/11/2018 07:00 GMT | Updated 30/11/2018 11:31 GMT

A Guide To The Most Terrifying Brexit Warnings From The Last Few Weeks

Bleak reading.


It’s been a busy few weeks for doom-mongers.

Report followed by analysis followed by from-the-gut outburst has said pretty much the same thing: leaving the EU is A Bad Thing, and departing without a deal with Brussels is Even Worse.

Here’s a run through of the most headline-grabbing of the many warnings ...

Bank Of England Forecast

A disorderly no-deal Brexit is a bigger threat to the UK economy than the catastrophic financial crash of 2008, according to a particularly foreboding prediction from the Bank of England.

The pound could plummet, inflation may soar and Britain’s growth would nosedive should Britain crash out of the bloc, the Bank has said in the starkest assessment of the impact of Brexit so far. 

Without a transition period and a good deal, Britain’s GDP could fall by as much as 8% in the first quarter of 2019, while unemployment could climb to 7.5%, according to analysis of a worst-case scenario.

Philip Hammond’s Honesty

The Remain-backing Chancellor admitted on Wednesday, to few people’s surprise, that the UK would be better off if it remained in the EU, saying the economy will be “slightly smaller” under Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Hammond said in “purely economic sense” it would be better for the UK not to leave.

“The economy will be slightly smaller in the prime minister’s preferred version of the future partnership,” he said.

A Treasury analysis concluded that the UK would be far better off under the terms of May’s agreement with Brussels than if it left with no deal.

PA Wire/PA Images
Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Donald Trump’s Gut

Theresa May could well view the US President’s intervention on her draft Brexit plan as deeply unhelpful, after he claimed the agreement would make trade between Washington and London more difficult.

Trump also told reporters outside the White House on Monday that the deal sounded like it will be good for the European Union.

“It sounds like a great deal for the EU. I think we have to look seriously at whether the UK is allowed to trade ... if you look at the deal they may not be allowed to trade with us,” he said.

“That wouldn’t be a good thing, I don’t think they meant that. I don’t think the prime minister meant that, and hopefully she’ll be able to do something about that.

“Right now, as the deal stands, they might not be able to trade with the US. I don’t think they want that at all. It would be a very big negative for the deal.” 

In case you’re wondering where this intel came from, the president later said he believed his “gut” could tell him more than “anybody else’s brain”.  

So there we are.

Disruption At Ports

There is a “significant” risk UK ports will not be ready to deal with a no-deal Brexit, an influential House of Commons committee warned this week.

The report, published on Wednesday, slammed Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for shrouding his preparations in “secrecy”.

The MPs on the public accounts committee also raised concerns about the “slow progress” made in testing whether Project Brock – the plan to turn 13-miles of the M20 heading towards Dover into a lorry park – would work.

“There is a real prospect of major disruption at our ports,” the MPs said.  

Meg Hiller, the Labour chair of the committee, warned there was still a lot of work to be done despite time running out.

“The risks associated with no-deal are severe, yet plans for avoiding disruption around major ports in particular are worryingly under-developed,” she said.

“The secrecy around the Department’s preparations, and the shortcomings in assurance on its progress, are a potentially toxic combination.”

PA Archive/PA Images
Vehicles queuing at Dover.

Macron On Fishing

While other EU member countries presented a united front when they agreed May’s draft deal on Sunday, it wasn’t all plain sailing.

French President Emmanuel Macron made clear that unless the UK was willing to compromise on fishing policy – and huge sticking point thus far and a key bugbear among Brexiteers – then talks on wider trade deals could be set back.

“We as 27 have a clear position on fair competition, on fish, and on the subject of the EU’s regulatory autonomy, and that forms part of our position for the future relationship talks,” he said.

He said unless sufficient progress was made on trade, the backstop to avoid a hard border in Ireland would have to be implemented.

“I can’t imagine that the desire of Theresa May or her supporters is to remain for the long term in a customs union, but (instead) to define a proper future relationship that resolves this problem,” the president said. 

Environment Secretary Michael Gove also got it in the neck from MPs on a Commons committee, who claimed fisherman “don’t trust [him] to deliver” after Brexit.

NHS Contingency Plans

Measures to keep the health service running in the event of a chaotic exit from the EU will be implemented before Christmas if the PM’s deal is voted down on December 11.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told MPs on the Commons’ health committee on Tuesday that plans for a no-deal Brexit – the cost of which could run into millions – would need to be triggered as a matter of urgency to ensure patients continue to have access to vital medicines. 

“In my view, the planning has been extensive, but aspects of these plans will need to be given the go ahead this side of Christmas and some early in the New Year,” he said.

It came less than two weeks after Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out the risk of deaths as a result of the UK crashing out of the bloc without a proper deal in place, piling pressure on medical supply and storage chains.

Time Is Running Out

With so many different aspects of legislation to consider, MPs are well aware they face a mammoth task ahead of March 29, 2019.

But there is a very real risk they may run out of time, with parliament being afforded nowhere near as many hours as it needs to properly scrutinise new legislation.

Research by the Hansard Society released last month showed the government is sailing dangerously close to having to implement emergency measures to fast-track the procedure.

Director Dr Ruth Fox said: “Since the EU (Withdrawal) Act was granted Royal Assent in the summer, nearly half the time available to make changes to the statute book before exit day next March has now elapsed.

“But only 9% of the minimum number of Statutory Instruments the government says are needed to deliver Brexit have been laid before parliament. If the government does not increase the pace, parliament will shortly be faced with the impossible task of scrutinising too many SIs in too little time.

“The government promised it would try and avoid a ‘peak and trough’ approach to the production of the SIs so parliament could do its scrutiny job properly. It needs to deliver on that promise.”