Brexit: No deal is already happening, says former diplomat

Sir Ivan Rogers said the UK was most likely going to crash out without an agreement

A lone Brexiteer talks on his phone as he makes his way down Whitehall in central London on March 29, 2019. MPs are set for a momentous third vote today on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, which could end a months-long political crisis or risk Britain crashing out of the EU in two weeks. / AFP / Tolga AKMEN
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Britain is already experiencing the effects of a no-deal Brexit despite still being in the European Union, a former UK ambassador to the bloc said on Friday.

Sir Ivan Rogers served as permanent representative to the EU until he resigned in 2017 over the British government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations.

Speaking at a panel event in London to mark what would have been the day that the UK left the EU, Sir Ivan said that he expected Britain to crash out of the bloc without a withdrawal agreement.

“I’ve been saying for a long time that I think no deal is a very likely outcome,” he said.

The former diplomat said that the continued uncertainty over the future had led many businesses to assume that no deal was going to happen.

“No deal is effectively happening in various sectors. I am talking to a lot of corporate figures who are telling me they are having to act on the assumption that no deal is happening and anything other than that is an upside,” he said.

“It is already happening in the real economy.”

Sir Ivan’s comments come as MPs prepare to vote on whether to approve part of [the] Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal in order to secure an extension of the departure date until May 22.

If - as expected - the deal is rejected, the departure date is scheduled for April 12 unless a further extension is agreed with Brussels.

At the same event at Chatham House, a former German minister said he did not believe the UK would leave without an agreement.

Norbert Röttgen told the panel that no deal “would be so damaging for all, for everybody”.

While Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party representative in the British parliament, said she believed it was more likely that MPs would “pull the emergency brake” and revoke Article 50 rather than risk crashing out.

“I think we would rather do that to avoid no deal, even though it is not ideal,” she said.

Meanwhile, former governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King said on Friday that London should ask Brussels for a six-month grace period to prepare for exiting the bloc without an agreement.

The Brexit-supporter added that gloomy forecasts of the economic impact of the UK leaving without a deal had been exaggerated.

“The more wild exaggerated view that somehow we’re going to have queues of lorries on the M20 for five years or more is pretty absurd,” he told the BBC.

“I don’t believe that with adequate preparation, or in the long term, that the economic costs of leaving would be very different from staying in.”