The UK public is gearing up to head to the polls as a snap general election takes place in fewer than 10 days.
The last time the UK was called to vote, it was for the Brexit referendum last June which saw 52 percent of the population vote to leave the European Union, over the 48 percent that wanted to stay.
Timeline for Brexit
- April 18, 2018
Much has been said over what could happen if the UK isn’t able to reach a deal with the union once the negotiations officially begin on June 19.
As election campaigning speeds up, what are the major parties saying about the possibility of so-called no deal with the bloc?
The Conservative Party
The current ruling party, with UK prime minister Theresa May as its leader, have said they would choose to walk away from Brexit negotiations with the union with a deal if they needed to.
Speaking in an interview on Sky News yesterday, May said:
We will be there to negotiate the right deal but what I have said is that no deal is better than a bad deal. We have to be prepared to walk out.
May has warned about the potential for “no deal” before; mainly warning that Brussels could seek to punish Britain to deter other EU states from leaving by taking a hardline stance.
This includes hitting the UK with a £50bn so-called Brexit bill to leave the bloc.
The prime minister called the election in order to give her a strong mandate to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU on behalf of the British public. She defended her record as home secretary and leader of the party in this role last night, saying:
What the people in Brussels look at is the record I had negotiating with them … and delivering for this country on a number of issues on justice and home affairs which people said we were never going to get.
The Labour Party
The Labour party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has set out a different stance for his party over Brexit. He said:
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There’s going to be a deal. We will make sure there is a deal.
When setting out the party’s Brexit vision last month, the shadow minister for the department for exiting the EU, Kier Starmer, said he would ensure the UK didn’t get into the situation where “no deal” was a possibility.
However, if that failed, he would ensure MPs would be given a chance to reject a deal without abandoning the goal of Brexit.
“In the event that all of that fails, we would have to have contingency measures here to deal with a cliff-edge scenario,” said Starmer.
Is no deal a real possibility?
If the UK fails to reach a trade deal with the EU after Brexit, the UK will have to fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Under these rules, Britain is likely to face far more punitive tariffs on products across a range of industries from manufacturing to agriculture.
As well, certain goods such as confectionary products and wine could become more expensive as they would be subject to 30 percent tariffs under the WTO rules.
A former chief of the organisation recently warned that resorting to WTO rules would be “worse than an agreement”.