Welsh and Scottish first ministers have warned that a no-deal Brexit would be a “catastrophe” and Theresa May should drop this option as there is “no time to waste.”
Welsh leader, Mark Drakeford and his Scottish counterpart, Nicola Sturgeon issued a joint statement calling for May to take the no-deal option off the table and to put forward legislation to scrap 29 March as the UK withdrawal date.
Welsh and Scottish first ministers’ statement said, “We are particularly keen to do so to press home the point that all the evidence we have seen to date suggests that the UK is simply not prepared for a no-deal Brexit in less than two months time.
“Our firm view is that such an outcome to the Brexit negotiations would be a catastrophe which would cause significant short-term disruption to the lives of ordinary citizens as well as to businesses and long-term harm to our economy.
“And while a longer period to prepare for no deal as proposed by some Conservative MPs might reduce the risk of people in Scotland and Wales being unable to access the medicines that they need or the range of foods they want to buy, it would do nothing to mitigate the longer-term economic damage that such a radical rupture with our EU neighbours would cause.
“The jobs lost at Schaeffler in Llanelli and the cancelled investment at Nissan in Sunderland are just a foretaste of the future. The CBI has estimated a no-deal Brexit could cost the Scottish economy £14bn a year by 2034.
“The point has been reached where there is now no time to waste.
“We therefore renew our call for the Prime Minister to make clear that she and her Government will ensure ‘no deal’ is taken off the table.
“This should include putting forward secondary legislation now to remove 29 March 2019 as Exit Day from the EU (Withdrawal) Act.
“The Prime Minister must also request an extension from the EU of the Article 50 deadline.
“We call on the Prime Minister to request such an extension immediately to put an end to the threat of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal in only eight weeks’ time.
“The EU has made it clear that in terms of negotiations on the future relationship, it would respond favourably if the Prime Minister was to drop her ‘red lines’.
“We therefore further call on the UK Government to abandon those red lines, which the EU has repeatedly said severely restrict the possible outcomes of Brexit.”
Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird and STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith also called for the UK Government to rule out a no deal Brexit, in a joint letter to Scottish Secretary David Mundell.
Ms Laird said: “With 50 days left until we leave the European Union, the only thing that is clear is that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for jobs, industries and Scotland’s economy.
“It is shameful that the UK Government still maintains that this an option, and it should rule it out immediately.”