Theresa May has been urged to reconsider the impact of leaving the European Union without a deal in a report that has caused a major rift in the Commons Brexit Select Committee.
Last week, angry Conservatives MPs stormed out of the meeting describing the 155-page document, which has now been published in full, as “too gloomy”.
However, the committee, chaired by Hilary Benn, said these assertions were “unsubstantiated” because the government had failed to assess the implications of such a scenario.
The clause, which has caused Eurosceptic MPs to disown their own report, comes after David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, admitted that he “could not quantify” the impact of failing to agree a new trade deal before 2019.
“Without an economic assessment of ‘no deal’ having been done and without evidence that steps are being taken to mitigate what would be the damaging effect of such an outcome, the Government’s assertion that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, is unsubstantiated,” it said.
“Parliament must be in an informed position to decide whether a proposed deal is, in fact, better or worse than ‘no deal’.”
“The report was rushed, skewed and partisan,” said Dominic Raab, a Eurosceptic former Conservative justice minister. “After two reports that had strong support, it’s regrettable that this one split the committee.”
The report, which was backed by a majority of 11 to 6, also stated that Brexit doesn’t mean reducing immigration.
“The Government’s objective is to secure control of EU migration and this may not entail reducing numbers,” it said.
It added: “We note the Foreign Affairs Committee’s recent conclusion that a ‘no deal’ scenario ‘represents a very destructive outcome leading to mutually assured damage for the EU and the UK’. We share that view. It is, therefore, very important that both the UK and the EU avoid reaching the end of the two-year negotiating period without an agreement.”
The report also noted that “there is no precedent for the conclusion of a major, comprehensive bilateral or multilateral FTA [free trade area] covering goods and services within two years.”
“There is also no precedent for the negotiation of a major FTA between countries that are already convergent in legal and regulatory terms.
“It may be that starting from this position of convergence enables the terms of a future trade deal to be negotiated more quickly than comparable agreements such as CETA [Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement]. It is not yet evident, however, that the two-year timetable for achieving this is realistic.”
The report comes as President Donald Trump claimed Brexit could be a “very good thing” for both parties.