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Councillor questions council over Brexit

July 17, 2018 7:40 AM
Declan Wilson on Brexit marchA Liberal Democrat councillor has been accused of "scaremongering" after asking about Gloucester City Council's preparations for Brexit.

Councillor Declan Wilson, deputy leader of the Lib Dem Group, asked Councillor Paul James, the city council leader, about a leaked report from Government civil servants warning of a "doomsday" Brexit scenario.

The Sunday Times reported that civil servants at the Department for Exiting the EU were drawing up a worst-case scenario that would see Britain facing food, fuel and medicine shortages within weeks if it left the EU without a deal.

There are said to be three scenarios - one mild, one severe, and one dubbed "Armageddon".

Councillor Wilson, who represents Hucclecote, said his question was reasonable given the prospect of No Deal becoming ever more likely.

"Theresa May's Chequers plan is unravelling by the day with Cabinet resignations, junior ministers quitting and now she is caving in and making concessions to some of her Conservative MPs over the Customs Bill," he said.

"There isn't much time left for Britain and the EU to agree a deal, and even if they do, it still has to clear Parliament and a large number of hardline Brexiteer Conservative MPs who are determined not to concede any ground.

"There is a very real prospect that Britain will crash out of the EU in March next year without a deal and therefore the worst really could happen.

"My question was about finding out what steps city council has taken to deal with such a scenario.

"It's clear from Councillor James's answer that the city council is yet to make any plans and rather than being proactive is happy for others to take the lead.

"The council really does need to start planning now for all eventualities."

He added: "A No Deal could cause untold damage to Britain, which is why the people should be give the final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to stay in the EU."

Councillor Wilson's question to the Leader of the Council says: "According to a leaked report, prepared by civil servants at the Department for Exiting the EU, Britain could be hit with shortages of medicine, fuel and food within a fortnight if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

"What contingency plans is this council preparing to help struggling communities in the event of such a scenario."

Councillor James's written response says: "Members may be aware that the relevant Act of Parliament that revokes the EU Communities Act of 1972, the Withdrawal Act, has already received Royal Assent.

"The Prime Minister updated Parliament following the recent Council of Europe meeting on progress of the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

"She noted that 'with the exception of the Protocol relating to Northern Ireland, we now have an agreement or are close to doing so'.

"The Government is due to publish a White Paper on its detailed approach to the future arrangements. This will inform talks on the other part of the next stage of negotiations, the Political Declaration.

"It is the aim of both sides that this document will be detailed and agreed in the Council meeting in October. It must in any event be agreed before the end of the year, allowing both Parliaments to approve it before we leave the EU at the end of March 2019.

"There is no reason to believe that there will be do deal, since both sides have made it clear that is vital for there to be one.

"Scaremongering about the likelihood of a no deal is unhelpful. We will of course plan for reasonable contingencies taking our lead from the Local Government Association, which represents local councils in the Brexit discussions with Government."