Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis said on Sunday that in the unlikely event it has to walk away from divorce talks with the European Union without a deal the country is drawing up contingency plans to mitigate the issues that could arise out of it.
Kicking off Britain’s most complex set of negotiations since the end of World War Two, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to begin exit talks by the end of the month. And the negotiations assume great importance because Britain’s political and economic future wuld be shaped by its outcome.
It would be a serious dereliction of duty if the government failed to plan for the possibility of not reaching an exit deal, warned a committee of lawmakers ahead of the start of negotiations, which could be triggered as early as Tuesday.
“I don’t think, firstly, that is remotely likely,” Davis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, responding to the report. “It’s in absolutely everybody’s interest that we get a good outcome.”
Resulting in economic harm to bothsides as well as creating uncertainty and legal confusion for individuals and businesses, a breakdown in negotiations would be a “very destructive outcome”, warned Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee.
“The simple truth is we have been planning for the contingency – all the various outcomes, all the possible outcomes of the negotiations,” Davis said.
“One of the reasons we don’t talk about the contingency plan too much is that we don’t want people to think ‘Oh, this is what we’re trying to do.'”
Davis declined to name a specific date when asked when May would trigger talks.
“Each date has different implications in terms of when it could be responded to by the (European) council … I’m not going to get into the details why, but there’s politics in terms of achieving success.”
The right to formally notify the EU of Britain’s intention to leave and start a two-year negotiating period as set out in the EU’s Lisbon treaty would be given to May by a Legislation and before she can begin negotiations, she must finish passing that legislation.
May’s authority over her Conservative Party as she seeks to overturn changes made to the draft bill by parliament’s upper chamber will be tested by the laws which are expected to be finalised in a series of votes early next week.
Inserting conditions into the bill saying May must guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in Britain and give lawmakers more powers to reject the final terms she reaches with the EU, the government suffered two heavy defeats in parliament during the legislative process.
Davis urged lawmakers to back May’s Brexit strategy and overturn those changes because they would tie the government’s hands in the negotiations as he was faced by a possible rebellion from Conservatives who want to vote on the final Brexit terms.
“What we can’t have is either house of parliament reversing the decision of the British people – they haven’t got a veto,” Davis said.
(Adapted from CNBC)