A DUP MP has said a no-deal Brexit is “probably inevitable” thanks to the “intransigence” of the EU’s negotiating position.
Sammy Wilson, the DUP spokesperson on Brexit, was speaking after reports that his party leader Arlene Foster had told a Conservative MEP a no-deal scenario is the likeliest outcome of Brexit talks.
Mr Wilson confirmed his party’s view that a no-deal Brexit was “probably inevitable”.
“Given the way in which the EU has behaved and the corner they’ve put Theresa May into, there’s no deal which I can see at present which will command a majority in the House of Commons,” he said.
“So it is probably inevitable that we will end up with a no deal scenario.”
In a nod to Theresa May’s pledge that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, Mr Wilson said: “I think that anybody looking at it objectively would say that what is on offer from the EU is a far worse deal than a no deal, and therefore she’d be mad to be railroaded into accepting it.”
Mr Wilson stressed that the EU’s “demands” mean it is unlikely any deal reached could gain sufficient backing in the House of Commons, where in addition to his own party’s concerns, Eurosceptic Tory MPs are unhappy with the way negotiations have been proceeding.
“She (Theresa May) will not get what the EU are demanding through the Commons,” he said. “Given the intransigence that we’ve seen from the EU, I think that it’s more and more inevitable that we’re going to finish up with no deal.”
Despite warnings from some quarters of dire consequences if the UK ‘crashes out’ of the EU with no trade deal, the East Antrim MP said both sides of the negotiating table are “fairly far advanced” in their preparations for just such a scenario.
He also stressed that “mini agreements” with the EU could still be reached even without an overall trade deal.
“No deal doesn’t mean there will be nothing agreed,” he said. “It probably means there will be a lot of mini agreements on things which are essential, to keep planes flying, lorries moving, that sort of thing.
“There will be no overall deal but that doesn’t mean there will be nothing agreed at all because certain essential things are required, both on the EU side and on our side.”
He added: “It seems that the EU and the UK are both fairly far advanced in making preparations for that.”
Mr Wilson also took aim at Irish premier Leo Varadkar and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who he said had “encouraged” the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier to “take a hard line”.
“The people who should be wetting themselves at the minute are producers in the Irish Republic, especially agricultural producers because they’re likely to face WTO tarrifs of nearly 40% on their food exports to GB,” he said.
“If I was a producer in the Irish Republic I’d be saying ‘what on earth has Varadkar and Coveney been playing at’. They’ve been probably the chief culprits in all of this. They’ve encouraged Barnier to take the hard line that he has.”
He warned the economic consequences for the Republic of Ireland could be dire: “I think there could well come a day of reckoning for the Irish politicians who so foolishly are walking the Irish economy into a disaster by pushing the EU into taking this intransigent stance.”