Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Senior UK minister casts doubt on Brexit

Liam Fox says chances of leaving EU are only 50-50 if government loses key vote

Brexiteer Liam Fox warned on Sunday that the parliament rejecting the blueprint would amount to betraying those who voted in the referendum. AFP
Brexiteer Liam Fox warned on Sunday that the parliament rejecting the blueprint would amount to betraying those who voted in the referendum. AFP

The chances of Britain leaving the European Union are no more than 50-50 if parliament rejects premier Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint, according to a senior minister.

MPs are due to vote in mid-January on the deal negotiated between Mrs May and the EU. The deal has been criticised by politicians from all parties.

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary and a prominent Brexiteer, said that he feared that Britain would never leave if the vote was lost.

“For me the worst possible outcome of this process would be no Brexit,” he said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

“If we do not vote for that, I’m not sure I would give it much more than 50-50. And for me that would induce a sense that we had betrayed the people that voted in the referendum.”

Mrs May scrapped a plan to vote on her deal in December when it became clear that it would not win the support of the majority of parliament.

She has since sought additional reassurances from the EU that could bolster support for her deal but has received little in return.

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If Mrs May’s vote fails, Britain is set for a no-deal exit ending years of joint-regulations and imposing barriers on trade between the two sides.

The UK’s central bank has warned that a no-deal Brexit could see GDP cut by eight per cent in 2019. The government has prepared for the move by putting troops on standby and ordering supermarkets to stockpile food.

A no-deal departure would also increase calls for a second referendum on the decision to leave the EU, though the government and opposition Labour party has ruled out such a move.

In a separate interview, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that if MPs backed Mrs May’s plan, preparations for future relations should start the following day.

Nearly 200,000 people from the UK applied for Irish passports in 2018, a record year and a sharp increase in the year before Brexit.

Some 99,000 were from England, Scotland and Wales, an increase of 22 per cent from the previous year. Another 85,000 were from Northern Ireland, an increase of two per cent.

Updated: December 31, 2018 11:08 AM

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