'Full Brexit' would do 'untold damage' to region's economy, warns…

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Plans for a so-called “full Brexit” could cause “untold damage” to the region’s economy MPs have warned, amid growing concern about the Government’s hard-line approach to Europe.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw claims a dramatic break from the EU is not what the public voted for in June, and could pose a threat to local growth and prosperity.

He has joined dozens of MPs in calling for a vote on any Brexit deal, urging politicians from all parties to come together and “stop this madness”.

“A hard Brexit would do untold damage to the Westcountry’s and Britain’s economy and prosperity, and I do not think people were voting for that on June 23rd,” Mr Bradshaw told the Herald.

“Mrs May is behaving as if the 4 per cent margin in the Referendum gives her a mandate for a hard Brexit. It doesn’t.

“I hope that enough sensible Conservative MPs will come together with MPs and peers across the political spectrum to stop this madness.”

The comments from the long-serving Labour MP follow a series of speeches and interviews by ministers in which they indicated support for a “full Brexit” option.

This is widely interpreted to mean leaving the European Single Market, which allows tariff-free trade with the EU.

The proposals have met with fierce criticism from Labour and Conservative MPs, with former business minister Anna Soubry claiming the Government has a manifesto commitment “to grow the single market”.

This has led to renewed calls for ministers to hold a vote on any Brexit deal, with former Labour leader Ed Miliband leading the charge.

However, in an address to Parliament today, Monday, Brexit minister David Davis stressed that the Government would “reject any attempt” to undo the referendum result or “thwart the will of the people”.

He said the mandate for Britain to leave the European Union “is clear… and unarguable” and MPs “have a duty to respect and carry out the people’s instruction”.

“I believe that when we have left the European Union, when we are once again in true control of our own affairs, we will be in an even stronger position to confront the challenges of the future,” he said.

“This Government will build a global Britain that will trade around the world, build new alliances with other countries, and deliver prosperity for its people.”

Dr Patrick Holden, associate professor at Plymouth University’s School of Law, Criminology and Government, said any move toward a hard Brexit would meet with strong resistance from Britain’s business communities.

He said this would constitute a “massive disconnect” from the UK’s previous trade ties with Europe, and that even a watered down “Norway-style” deal would still be a significant change.

But he suggested that a Parliamentary vote on a Brexit deal “will and should happen”, stating it would be “pretty strange” for MPs for be denied a say on such an important decision.

Professor Steve McCorriston, of the University of Exeter Business School, warned against oversimplifying the choice between membership of the single market and “full Brexit” – which many have suggested would mean a reversion to World Trade Organisation rules.

He said there is no “black and white” answer as to which would be best for the UK, due to the added complexities of non-tariff trade barriers and harmonisation of trading standards.

“International trade is so complex and requires a lot of negotiation it is unclear what the dynamics of that would be,” he said.

“Everything is going to be difficult and its going to require the best endeavours.”


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