Rishi Sunak warns the Cabinet's 'war committee' a No Deal means a tough winter for the UK due to Covid

Rishi Sunak warns the Cabinet's 'war committee' a No Deal means a tough winter for the UK due to Covid

October 14, 2020

RISHI Sunak gave the Cabinet Brexit war committee a "reality check" on the "bumpy" winter coming if there is No Deal with the country already suffering because of coronavirus.

The Chancellor said if trade talks collapse “in the short term things will be a bit bumpy and we should be eyes wide open to that, but we’ll get through it.”

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But he cautioned without a deal, the chemicals, manufacturing and the car industries already ravaged by the Covid crisis would need significant bailouts from the taxpayer.

However he insisted Britain would flourish regardless of a deal with the EU – in a message echoed by Boris Johnson at the full Cabinet on Tuesday morning.

The PM told ministers that failing to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels should hold "no fear" for the UK.

It came as ministers upped the last minute pressure on the EU to do a deal by buying up massive swathes of ferry capacity to allow free flowing medicines and goods into the UK if talks collapse.

Removing one of Brussels key aces in the talks – the risk of border chaos – the Government has signed agreements with four ferry operators to provide capacity equivalent to over 3,000 HGVs per week, mitigating the risk of disruption at the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021.

Ahead of a crunch EU summit tomorrow, it was clear a deal would not be reached by Mr Johnson’s deadline of this week.

'Particularly urgent'

But there were growing signs the EU27 are splintering with France under increasing pressure to back down on the thorny issue of fishing.

Angela Merkel last night warned other EU leaders they need to be more realistic in trade negotiations with Britain.

The German Chancellor said getting a deal is "particularly urgent from the Irish perspective" in a call for capitals to soften their stance.

UK negotiators fear the PM's deadline for a deal to be ready by tomorrow will be missed because Michel Barnier has lost control of EU states.

British sources say the Frenchman has been unable to persuade countries, in particular his homeland, to take a more realistic stance.

Mr Barnier said the negotiations will continue "in the coming days and weeks" in defiance of No 10's demands for swift progress.

Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney added: "There are a number of weeks left in this negotiation, not a number of days. I don't see that there will be any major breakthrough this week."

But a UK Government source hit back: "The EU have been using the old playbook in which they thought running down the clock would work against the UK. They have assumed that the UK would be more willing to compromise the longer the process ran. Time is now extraordinarily short. We need the EU to urgently up the pace and inject some creativity."

The PM will hold a video call with Brussel chief Ursula von der Leyen today ahead of this week's crunch summit of EU leaders.

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