Published On: Tue, Aug 13th, 2019

Brexit news: Theresa May and Philip Hammond shamed for not preparing for no deal | UK | News

Conservative peer and Next CEO, Lord Wolfson has dashed no deal fears as he criticised the way the previous Government prepared for all eventualities of leaving the EU. Former chancellor Philip Hammond has faced scrutiny over his attitude towards a no deal Brexit, and Lord Wolfson has hit out at the preparations that were made for that eventuality under Theresa May’s leadership. The Tory peer claimed there was a “wilful attempt” to not prepare, mainly based out of “fear”, as he claimed EU negotiations would go down to the wire.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think there was almost a wilful attempt to not prepare in Government. Mainly out of the fear that they were so scared of no deal that they wouldn’t allow anyone to admit that it could happen.

“That occasionally happens in business too, they see trouble on the horizon, and they don’t admit it is coming.

“They are not prepared to prepare for it. The best way of tackling any problem is to look at it head-on, work out what the problems are, and then rigorously and meticulously go around the business of solving those problems.

“That is what the Government is in the process of doing. I think if businesses and Government prepare well for no deal, then I think the worst outcome will be mild distribution, but the best outcome is that we will actually get a better deal, one that is acceptable to Parliament.”

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He continued: “The one thing I have learnt in the last 20 years of business is that if you go into a negotiation and you sit down and you say, ‘by the way, I am not going to leave the room until I get whatever you give me’ – you are not going to get a deal.

“You are not actually in a negotiation, you haven’t gone to negotiate, you have gone to plead.

“In order to get the best deal from Europe, we have to be prepared to walk away.”

Asked whether there was time to still get an agreement with the European Union, Lord Wolfson said: “I have no idea.”

Mr Johnson has demanded the backstop mechanism within the withdrawal agreement is ejected before negotiations between the UK and EU can restart, but so far the bloc has refused to budge, pushing Britain towards no deal.

Last week, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the invite to Mr Johnson to join him in Dublin for talks on Brexit and other issues had “no preconditions”.

But, a spokesman for the Taoiseach said on Sunday: “The Taoiseach has invited the British Prime Minister to Dublin for talks on Northern Ireland and Brexit. Their offices are in contact to agree a date for these talks in the coming weeks.

“Such a meeting would give both sides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of their respective positions. As has repeatedly been made clear, the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop are not up for negotiation. Any discussions on changes to the Political Declaration would occur between the UK and the EU.”

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