An MP close to Theresa May has revealed she plans to “scare people witless” about the consequences of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit over the summer, in order to win support for her ultra-soft Chequers plan.
An anonymous Tory MP described as an “ally” of the Prime Minister told BBC Newsnight that “We want to scare people witless so people will eventually embrace the Theresa May plan,” the Daily Mail reports.
This scheme will involve the release of 70 official documents over the next several weeks, describing a series of contingency plans in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, which would see the United Kingdom walk away from the EU without a formal bilateral agreement and deal with one another on standard World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.
This has been described in lurid terms as a “cliff-edge Brexit” or “crashing out” of the EU, with aeroplanes grounded and the country forced to stockpile food and medicines in what EU loyalist Dominic Grieve MP has described as a “national emergency”.
Bizarre stories have already appeared in mainstream media outlets such as BBC News and the Independent, claiming a ‘No Deal’ Brexit could mean no more sandwiches, and butter, cheese, and yoghurt becoming rare and expensive luxuries.
The extreme contrast with Remainers’ pre-referendum claims that the EU is merely a benign free trade area which makes minimal demands on Britain’s sovereignty with this image of a nation in freefall without Brussels has been little remarked upon, and Brexiteers who believe some of the more outlandish claims are not realistic are not often given space to respond to them.
As before the referendum, when President of the European Council Donald Tusk warned Brits that voting to Leave could mean “the end of Western political civilisation” and David Cameron asked then-U.S. President Barack Obama to threaten to send the country to the “back of the queue” for a trade deal, former Remain campaigner Theresa May appears to have support from abroad for her scare tactics.
French Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit would mean a “brutal divorce” in which Britain would come off the worse — despite that fact that the EU sells far more to the UK than the UK sells to the EU, and that the UK would no longer feel obliged to shell out tens of billions of pounds in exit fees.
The tenor of the Government’s Brexit pronouncements and mainstream media coverage in general is highly reminiscent of the ‘Project Fear’ strategy adopted by David Cameron, George Osborne, and their allies in the Remain campaign and Brussels in 2016, in which they made a series of now discredited claims that a vote to Leave the European Union would deliver an “immediate and profound shock” to the economy, plunging the country back into recession and throwing half a million people out of work.
The economy has, in fact, continued to grow since the referendum, and unemployment has reached record lows.