By a margin of 41 votes, MPs yesterday took necessary action to prevent the next Prime Minister from shutting the doors to the House of Commons and suspending our parliamentary democracy so he can ram through a no-deal Brexit on 31st October without any scrutiny from elected representatives.
It is utterly staggering that we had to take this precautionary step – but it was vital that we did it – a cross-party backbench initiative inserted into the Northern Ireland Bill. And thank goodness MPs defied the Government to put this insurance policy in place.
The vote coincided with a stark reminder from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility of just what a massive risk to our society a no-deal, no-transition Brexit would present. If we can’t stop the country falling off this cliff edge in October, the consequences are now very clear.
First, the OBR scenario predicts a £30billion per year cost to Exchequer from next year onwards as tax revenues fall. That’s less for our vital public services. And 12% of GDP added to national debt by 2023. The OBR say: “There is no war-chest or pot of money set aside” and that their scenario is “relatively benign…compared to some”!
They predict the value of the pound would fall by around 10% because of no-deal weaker competitiveness and inflation rises as a result. That we would see an immediate hike in tariff and non-tariff barriers hits UK exports. Pensions would be hit by adverse market reaction in equity prices. Wages & salaries could be 2.6% lower at the start of 2024.
A no-deal outcome would drag the UK into recession this year as business investment falls 8% and consumer spending is lower. Unemployment could rise to over 5%, adding £2bn in extra welfare costs.
All these risks. All these real, human consequences. And yet there are still Brexit ideologues who think it’s a price worth paying. I’m going to keep doing all I can to prevent this damaging Brexit and give the public a choice on the way ahead. And I am determined not to let the Government get away with shutting down our parliamentary democracy in the process.