Ex-Chancellor says May's deal likely

Darling: ‘Not enough mad people to vote for No Deal’

Alistair Darling PLSA conf

Alistair Darling: ‘what do we want as a nation?” (pic: Terry Murden)


Former Chancellor Alistair Darling today said that a No Deal Brexit was unlikely because “there are not enough mad people to vote for it”.

Lord Darling, who led the government’s rescue of the banks in 2008, said the crisis now facing the country over EU departure had the added uncertainty of weak international relations.

Addressing a conference of pensions professionals in Edinburgh, he said the Prime Minister may get her deal, partly helped by 20-plus Labour MPs in Leave constituencies.

He said the deal “is not a good one because it locks us into agreements we cannot get out of. But it is infinitely better than no deal.

“If that fails we are left with an extension to Article 50 [the withdrawal clause].”

He said the problem in finding a Brexit solution was that there was no clarity on what Brexit should look like.

“As a nation, what do we actually want? Going into negotiations without knowing what we want will not achieve very much.”

He said Brexit had become a “proxy for discontent” among the public who no longer trusted politicians. It had also given rise extremism, nationalism and the election of Donald Trump to the White House.

“What should have happened in 2016 [the year of the EU referendum] is that we should have had a grown up conversation at home. With 21 days to go, where do we stand?

“I think No Deal is unlikely because there are not enough mad people to vote for it because it would be reckless in the extreme.

“This is a self-inflicted wound and… our children will think badly of us if we do not sort this out.”

Lord Darling, who was speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings conference, said the Brexit talks were taking place against a weakening in international relations, such as the US-China trade war. Reflecting on the 2008 deal to rescue the banks, he said he had the advantage of having good international co-operation that enabled the global financial system to be propped up.

“No one asked at any point who was paying for it. Would it happen today? I don’t think it would. We all agreed that we had to something and all countries agreed to do the same thing to keep things going.”

He said that various measures are proposed to tackle issues such as cyber crime and climate change, but warned: “None of it will happen without international co-operation.”


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