As food industry cautions over No Deal...
PM warns of No Brexit as backbenchers rebel over deal
May: poised for defeat
Theresa May will attempt to win over Brexiteers on Monday, warning them that staying in the EU is now more likely than their preferred option of leaving with No Deal.
In a speech in a pro-Leave seat, the Prime Minister will tell pro-Brexit MPs that last week’s Westminster drama showed that there is now a growing number of members seeking to thwart Britain’s exit altogether.
Mrs May’s last-ditch appeal, to be delivered at a factory in Stoke-on-Trent, comes 24 hours before MPs vote on her withdrawal agreement which is she is expected to lose.
She will tell MPs today that voting down her proposals on Tuesday would destroy faith in politics, and could mean that Brexit does not happen.
“I ask MPs to consider the consequences of their actions on the faith of the British people in our democracy,” she wlll say.
“What if we found ourselves in a situation where parliament tried to take the UK out of the EU in opposition to a remain vote? People’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm. We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum.
“There are some in Westminster who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so,”
Her speech follows moves over the weekend by a cross-party group of MPs to change Commons rules to enable backbench motions to take precedence over government business if Mrs May’s EU agreement fails.
This would give MPs, rather than ministers, control of parliamentary business and sideline the prime minister and may allow them to legally compel the government to delay Brexit beyond the set departure date.
A delay is already being demanded by some MPs who believe that a deadline of 29 March goes not provide sufficient time to pass the necessary bills. A number of Cabinet ministers are also said to believe that a delay is inevitable.
It was previously thought only ministers could extend the two-year Article 50 process, which governs how a member state leaves the EU.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Mrs May said the Commons vote on her Brexit withdrawal deal would be the “biggest and most important decision that any MP of our generation will be asked to make”.
The PM is widely expected to lose the vote on the withdrawal agreement she reached with the European Union, something some ministers have said will lead to Brexit “paralysis”.
Food and drink firms warning
Food and drink industry leaders in Scotland have written an open letter urging politicians from all sides to rule out a no deal Brexit, warning that it would cost at least £2 billon in lost sales annually to the £14bn industry.
It is the largest on-shore industry in terms of workforce – employing 120,000 people – and has made previous statements expressing concern at the potential impact of No Deal.
The joint letter represents a stepping up its concerns ahead of Tuesday’s meaningful vote in the Commons. The letter makes it clear that No Deal must be rejected.
The letter says:
“As lead bodies representing Scotland’s £14 billion farming, food and drink industry, we implore politicians of all parties to unite immediately and reject the option of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Whilst recognising there is no political consensus yet on a future trade relationship with Europe, the potentially catastrophic impact of not reaching any deal is clear.
“We are collectively hugely ambitious for the growth of our industry. However, even using the UK Government’s own projections, we estimate the cost of No Deal to our industry would be at least £2 billion in lost sales annually. That is on top of the short-term chaos resulting from transport delays and labour shortages.
“Indeed, our businesses are already bearing the cost of No Deal, having to spend millions of pounds in time and investment to mitigate the potential disruption that will stem from the UK crashing out of the EU.
“We represent the people who farm Scotland’s land and seas, and food and drink businesses that are the nation’s largest onshore manufacturing industry, employing 120,000 people. The EU accounts for 70% of Scottish food exports annually and it is also the source of crucial inputs and supplies for our sector.
“By Parliament rejecting a No Deal scenario, our industry effort can focus on shaping a future relationship with the EU that we can work with, not preparing for the fallout we can’t. There is no tolerance for No Deal as an option. It must be rejected now.”
James Withers – Chief Executive – Scotland Food & Drink
Scott Walker – Chief Executive – NFU Scotland
Alan Clarke – Chief Executive – Quality Meat Scotland
David Thomson – Chief Executive – Food and Drink Federation Scotland
Julie Hesketh-Laird – Chief Executive – Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation
Alasdair Smith – Chief Executive – Scottish Bakers
James Graham – Chief Executive – Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society