David Davis reveals Government is making contingency plans 'in case Brexit deal isn't reached'

Tom Powell

The Government is working on contingency plans in case Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal, the Brexit Secretary has revealed.

David Davis insisted the country would be ready if the negotiations "go wrong" and the preparations would stop the country going off "a cliff edge".

It comes after a powerful committee warned that failure to reach an agreement would be "very destructive" for both Britain and the EU.

Mr Davis told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show he had briefed the Cabinet on contingency plans.

David Davis: the Brexit secretary said he had briefed the Cabinet on contingency plans (PA)

"The aim is to get a good outcome and I'm confident I'll get a good outcome.

"One of the reasons we don't talk about the contingency plan too much is we don't want people to think this is what we are trying to do."

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said there was real possibility the talks could end with no deal but said it had seen no evidence of serious contingency planning by Government.

It said ministers should order all Whitehall departments to draw up a "no deal plan", warning that failure to prepare for such an outcome would be a "serious dereliction of duty".

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said she would rather walk away without a settlement than agree to a "bad deal".

Mr Davis said: "We have been planning for the contingency, all the various outcomes, all the possible outcomes of the negotiations.

MPs are preparing to vote on the Brexit Bill that will allow the Prime Minister to trigger the start of withdrawal talks.

Mr Davis has called on them to to kick out measures introduced by peers that would give parliament a "meaningful" vote on the divorce deal and guarantees on protections for EU nationals living in Britain when they consider them on Monday.

Up to 10 Tory MPs could oppose the Government or abstain in the vote, including former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and former Chancellor Ken Clarke, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Labour sources warned there was a 20% chance of peers sending the Bill back to the Commons again if their amendments are dismissed out of hand.

Mr Davis told the programme: "It's inconceivable to me that there wouldn't be a vote on the outcome but the simple truth is what I don't want to do is take a simple Bill which is designed to do nothing more than put the result of the referendum into law, as the Supreme Court told us to do.

"We are going to do that. Please don't tie the Prime Minister's hands in the process of doing that for things which we expect to attain anyway."

Pressed on whether Parliament would get a meaningful vote, he replied: "What we can't have is either House of parliament reversing the decision of the British people.

"They haven't got a veto. What does it mean otherwise? People talk about a meaningful vote, what does it mean otherwise?"

If Parliament rejects the deal the country goes on to World Trade Organisation rules.

"That is why we do the contingency planning, to make sure that is not harmful. This is the reality, the decision has been made."

Mr Davis refused to be drawn on speculation that Theresa May would trigger Article 50 on Tuesday but said the country will be out of the bloc within the two year deadline.

The Cabinet minister said he believed guarantees for EU nationals in the UK and Britons in the rest of the bloc would be resolved "in principle" quickly.

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