What’s Labour policy on a ‘no deal’ for Brexit?

Published: 20th Oct 2017

“What we’re not going to do is to adopt the Labour policy which is to say: deal at any cost. Now what happens if they say give us 100 billion euros or no deal?”

Chris Grayling, 19 October 2017

“That is the cost. That's not our policy. That's nonsense, Chris. That's absolute nonsense. And you know it's nonsense.”

Lisa Nandy, 19 October 2017

Neither the Government nor the Labour Party have officially stated the amount they are willing to offer as part of the Brexit deal. Labour has made it clear that ‘no deal’ is not an option. The government says it currently expects a deal to be reached, but is keeping no deal on the table.

Keir Starmer, the shadow secretary of state for exiting the European Union, stated the Labour Party position on a ‘no deal’ Brexit, in a speech in April:

“Theresa May has said that no deal is better than a bad deal. Boris Johnson has said no deal is no problem. Labour are very clear that no deal is the worst possible deal.”

“(A Labour approach) means rejecting no deal as a viable option – a move that will give greater certainty for investors, workers and businesses.”

This position was reiterated on 17th October, when he said in the House of Commons:

“We also need to drop the nonsense about no deal. Only fantasists and fanatics talk up no deal. No deal is not good for the UK, is not good for the EU and is not what the Secretary of State wants, but he must now realise that the slow progress of these talks raises the risk of no deal.”

During this debate, David Davis mentioned that Mr Starmer and the shadow chancellor had said that weekend:

“Oh, we’ll pay in perpetuity for access to the single market. We’ll pay whatever it takes. £100 billion. £200 billion. Whatever it takes.”

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell appeared on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, where they discussed the UK’s liabilities to the EU:

JM: Listen, Andrew, this is the point I’m making. They’re in government; they have the lawyers advising them. Civil servants, objectively advising them exactly what the legal position is. And we’re saying to them publish that and let’s do this on a cross party basis and we then know exactly what our legal liabilities are, then we can say to the European Union this is what our liabilities are and we’ll pay for them.

AM: So if it turns out that it’s something like 60 billion extra pounds Labour will be prepared to pay?

JM: I don’t think it is anywhere near that.

AM: But you don’t know, you haven’t the advice, it might be. It might be a hundred billion.

JM: That’s what I’m saying. I can’t see it being that much objectively myself, just standing as an external observer. But what’s wrong with just publishing the information? Because then we can say to our European partners this is exactly what our lawyers are telling us and that’s what we’ll stick to.

AM: And if you see those commitments there, you will pay that price?

JM: Oh, if they’re legal liabilities we have to and we’ve always said that, but let’s have that proper advice.

Mr Starmer appeared on Peston on Sunday and was asked about the amount Labour would pay as part of a Brexit deal, and said:

“We should keep it as low as possible, and it should be paid over a period of time.”

He was also asked if Labour would be willing to pay for continued access to the customs union, and said:

“Ideally no, or keep it low. If economically it’s better off to have an arrangement that works for our business and secures our economy, then we would do it.”

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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