May warns UK to ready for no deal if she loses

LONDON • Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May faced questions yesterday from the chairs of UK Parliament’s committees.

May warned country to prepare for a “no deal” Brexit if she loses parliamentary vote on her deal with the European Union (EU) on Dec 11.

May refuses to commit to publishing the government’s detailed proposals on a postBrexit immigration policy before Parliament votes on her deal with the EU.

‘There is still discussion ongoing as to the timing of the publication of the immigration white paper,” she said, adding that the government has previously set out its broad plan for immigration. The government is still discussing how to deal with lowskilled migrant labour as employers in industries such as farming and hospitality fear shortages after Brexit.

Asked if she can stay in power even if she wins the Dec 11 vote, given the strain on her relationship with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which opposes her deal, the PM said it wasn’t an issue. 

“We obviously are talking to the DUP,” she said, adding that their confidence-and-supply agreement remains in place.

The pound fell sharply following May’s warning on no-deal, down as much as 0.5% to the day’s low of 1.2758.

The Bank of England said on Wednesday that the currency could plunge to below parity with the dollar under a disorderly exit from Europe, though some currency strategists said such a sharp move seemed excessive.

When asked how the UK government’s Brexit deal compares to the Chequers plan modelled in Treasury analysis on Wednesday, May said the government is still planning to negotiate for frictionless trade with Europe.

“What you see in the political declaration, and you will see it in the language around the ambitious customs arrangement in the future, is a clear recognition of the need to reduce that friction as much as possible,” she said.

“It’s still better to reduce it, to have frictionless trade, but there are those in the EU who have yet to be persuaded of that argument.”

May told the committee of senior members of Parliament that lawmakers voting down her Brexit deal on Dec 11 isn’t risk free.

“The timetable is such that some people would need to take some practical steps in relation to planning for no deal” if the government loses the vote, she said. — Bloomberg