Sir Peter Bottomley: 'No-deal Brexit would be unintended mistake and error by both sides'

13 January 2020, 08:47 | Updated: 13 January 2020, 08:49

Sir Peter Bottomley is the Tory Father of the House
Sir Peter Bottomley is the Tory Father of the House. Picture: PA

By Megan White

A no-deal Brexit "would be an unintended mistake and error by both sides", the Tory Father of the House has warned.

Sir Peter Bottomley said the risk of such a scenario is now “much smaller,” adding that he “hopes” Boris Johnson's EU departure timetable is realistic.

But senior EU figures have warned that completing a deal in such a tight time-frame is likely to prove impossible, raising fears that Britain could be heading for a no-deal.

The Prime Minister wants to reach a free trade agreement by the end of December, when the transition period is set to end, and he has insisted he will not push back the deadline.

Sir Peter said: "I think the risk is much smaller, I think the EU27 like the UK have got so many interests in common and reasonably sensible people negotiating for them - and the biggest problem the EU27 face is not actually Britain leaving, it's how they can get their system to work more effectively for the people who are inside.

Sir Peter became Father of the House after the recent General Election
Sir Peter became Father of the House after the recent General Election. Picture: PA

"To leave on no deal, in what's called no deal, which is some sort of similarity to WTO, I think would be an unintended mistake and error by both sides.

"I'm convinced that if we can leave on reasonable terms, the difference to our economy may set us back 3 to 5 per cent over a period of years, not each year.

"If we crash out, I suspect we'd have a hit to our economy of about 10 to 12 per cent and then have to rescue ourselves from that."

Number 10 this week indicated its desire to carry out trade talks with the EU alongside those with other nations including the US.

Sir Peter added: "The tandem talks is what many of us wish we could have had from the weekend after the referendum result, it wasn't what was in the book of rules.

"But people should have found a way round that, because always the question is what's going to happen afterwards.

"If you can't start asking what's going to happen afterwards until you've left, the terms of leaving don't necessarily give everyone confidence."

Sir Peter's predecessor as Father of the House, Tory former chancellor Ken Clarke repeatedly warned against a hard Brexit.

He said: "People around the Prime Minister took the decision to withdraw the whip from a number of people, unnecessarily in my view."

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