Claude Moraes denounces senior UK politicians for lying about Brexit contingency plans

Written by Martin Banks on 4 June 2019 in News
News

Senior UK MEP Claude Moraes has accused top British politicians of “lying” to the public about contingency plans for leaving the EU without a deal.

Claude Moraes | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


Speaking to this website on Monday, the newly re-elected Socialist deputy was responding to weekend comments by one of the Conservative leadership contenders about the UK’s ability to have a “managed” no-deal exit from the EU.

The claim was made on TV on Sunday by Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP whose resignation led to Theresa May’s decision to stand down as Prime Minister.

But Moraes challenged the assertion by Leadsom, saying, “there is no such thing as a managed no deal and the narrative that is building around this idea is both ignorant and dangerous, not least for British manufacturing.”


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He was scathing of “politicians in the UK who try to fool the public into thinking there could be a managed exit. The reality is that there will be no transition period in the event of the UK leaving on a no-deal basis.”

The UK has been granted an extended deadline of 31 October for leaving the EU, with or without a deal.

The leading Conservative leadership candidate, Boris Johnson, is committed to leaving the EU with no deal and there are fears the UK is veering closer to a no deal after the success of the Brexit party in the European elections.

A new poll shows Nigel Farage’s party is now, for the first time, ahead of both Labour and the Conservatives. This week will see all of the Conservative party leadership candidates appear at hustings events in the UK.

“There is no such thing as a managed no deal and the narrative that is building around this idea is both ignorant and dangerous” Claude Moraes MEP

Moraes, elected to the European Parliament for a fifth time in London, also criticised Amber Rudd, the UK work and pensions secretary, who also intervened in the Brexit debate at the weekend, speaking of an opportunity to reset the agenda with the EU after the new European Commission takes up office later this year.

Rudd, who is not standing for the leadership but is regarded as the leading pro-European voice in Theresa May’s cabinet, was ridiculed by Moraes for referring to the Commission President as “the EU Commissioner.”

Moraes told this website, “These comments by a senior member of the UK Government are typical of the sort of total ignorance from UK politicians about the EU and how it works. There can be no excuse for this sort of casual ignorance.”

The long-serving MEP, formerly chair of Parliament’s civil liberties committee, was equally critical of suggestions that the UK will be able to persuade the EU to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, the deal that had three times been rejected by the House of Commons.

He said, “I do not know how many times people like Michel Barnier and the EU itself have to keep saying it, but the Agreement will not be re-opened. This has been stated many times. Those who tell the UK public it can or will be re-opened are, again, fooling the public.”

His comments were partly echoed by SNP deputy Alyn Smith, also newly re-elected in the 23-26 May elections, who told this website, “It beggars belief that after three years of heartbreak we are all of us reduced to being bystanders watching yet another internal Tory argument because they’re all essentially cowards.”

“The EU did not want us to leave at all, but why should the EU change its own rules to suit a departing member? The only reason why we have such a bad deal is because Mrs May demanded it in order to pander to her own party, and we see them at it again.”

“It beggars belief that after three years of heartbreak we are all of us reduced to being bystanders watching yet another internal Tory argument because they’re all essentially cowards” Alyn Smith MEP

“Facts are facts. Brexit is Mrs May’s disastrous Withdrawal Agreement, all else is aspiration. The all-but-meaningless Political Declaration could, of course, be amended to include all sorts of fluff and warm words but all the facts remain the same.”

“Whoever the hapless PM is will discover soon enough that gravity still exists. 27 - the number of EU Member States - is still bigger than 1, and no amount of wishing it away will alter that fact, Smith added.”

Elsewhere, UK Labour MEP Richard Corbett, who was also voted back to Parliament for another term, told this website, "The EU has continually said that it will not re-open the Withdrawal Agreement (the 'divorce settlement') but would be willing to re-open the joint declaration on the future framework of UK-EU relations. Re-opening anything would need the UK government to change its 'red lines'.”

“The EU court has also ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke its Article 50 notification of its intention to leave the EU."

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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