The Exiting the European Union committee has come across its first challenge when it had to take a united position over the government’s strategy on The Brexit negotiations. A report, prepared as a recommendation to force the Government to offer better assessments on the “no deal” future, had split the EU Committee for the first time. Five Tory MPs and the Democratic Unionist Sammy Wilson voted against the report describing it as “rushed, skewed and partisan” and also “too gloomy”. However, the report was voted “yes” by another 10 Committee members from Labour, Liberal, Democrat, SDLP and SNP, all of whom resisted the pro-Brexit vote last year.
According to the report, the Government has been opposing the idea of accepting a “bad deal” but “has not yet explained what terms would be demonstrably worse for the UK than ‘no deal'”. Therefore, the MPs recommend Theresa May and her ministers to prepare a better valuation. “They should make an assessment. Because in the absence of the government explaining what mitigating measures it would take to deal with that outcome, to say that no deal is better than a bad deal is unsubstantiated,” the chair of the Committee Hilary Benn said.
On the other side, five Conservatives MPs, including the former ministers John Whittingdale and Dominic Raab, opposed the report with the argument that is “very much concentrated on the problems without really recognising the opportunities” which Brexit will provide. Dominic Raab expressed his regret that after two reports receiving the solidarity of the Exiting the EU Committee the 3rd one splits the MPs. “That undermines its credibility and influence, but I hope and expect the committee will learn the right lessons as we move forward,” he commented.
The report said that “The Government’s negotiating objectives: the White Paper” contains six topics split in 12 objectives such as “providing certainty and clarity”, “strengthening the Union”, “Ensuring free trade with European markets” and “controlling immigration”. According to the Committee’s MPs, one of the Government’s priorities should be seeking a “stand-alone and separate” deal on the rights of the British expats in the EU so they won’t live in midpoint without knowing what their status is until the negotiations are finished.
It is unclear how the UK Government will reflect on the Committee’s recommendations and if it will take them under consideration, but, according to the Brexit Secretary David Davis, “a responsible government should prepare for all potential outcomes”.
The full content of the report can be found on the official Parliament’s page.