'No deal better than bad deal' approach to Brexit 'unsubstantiated'

Parliamentary committee calls for continued data sharing with Europol

Theresa May photo by Frederic Legrand COMEO via Shutterstock
Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, allowing the UK leave the EU, on 29 March. Pic: Frederic Legrand/Shutterstock

The UK government's "no deal is better than a bad deal" approach to Brexit negotiations has been slammed by a cross-party parliamentary committee report, which today called the claim "unsubstantiated".

Committee chairman Hilary Benn said Blighty is about to enter into "enormously important and complex negotiations" covering trade, customs rules, access to the single market, security and foreign policy co-operation, and the rights of UK and EU citizens at home and abroad.

He said: "Parliament must be in an informed position to decide whether a proposed deal is, in fact, better or worse than no deal."

The report called for the stability of data flows across UK and EU borders, urging the government to secure a data adequacy agreement with the EU.

An "imaginative" solution whereby the UK could continue some level of involvement with Europol might also be possible, as there is a strong operational argument for the UK to continue to participate in programmes for data sharing.

"The technical obstacles that will need to be overcome for continuing co-operation in these areas will be significant, but not insuperable."

In addition it called for clarity on plans not to leave the EU customs union, which follows a warning by the Treasury Committee that its £70m Customs Declaration Service replacement computer system could collapse due to Brexit.

Benn said: "The government is right to try and negotiate both the divorce settlement and a new trading relationship in tandem, but it should also be prepared for the worst case – i.e. that a new trade agreement is not reached or ratified by the day we leave – because the timescale allowed by Article 50 is particularly tight.

"Leaving the EU without a future trade deal and in doing so defaulting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules is no less an important decision for the UK's economic future than the terms of any future Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU. It is therefore essential that such a step is not taken without Parliament having a vote on the matter."

On the subject of Gibraltar, Benn said its sovereignty and the wish of its people to remain British and its rights under any deal "must be protected". ®

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