Brexit 'no-deal' not good for UK, says member of the Government's Treasury team

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Failure to get a Brexit deal would not be good for Britain, the parliamentary private secretary to Treasury ministers has said.

Tory MP Chris Philp made the comments after Prime Minister Theresa May set out plans for how the UK would deal with the possibility of exiting the EU without an agreement.

Mr Philp told BBC 2's Newsnight: "The European Union negotiating team, the European Commission, have chosen, voluntarily, not to even discuss trade and transition. Now, clearly, that makes a no deal deal scenario more likely because ... the clock is ticking.

"But, if we did end up in a no deal scenario, that, clearly, wouldn't be good for the UK. Although we would obviously deal with it. But, it's not good for the European Union either."

Mr Philp also dismissed calls by Tory grandee Lord Lawson for Chancellor Philip Hammond to be sacked. Former chancellor Lord Lawson accused Mr Hammond of undermining Brexit negotiations, claiming that his refusal to release money now for preparations for a no deal Brexit was "very close to sabotage".

Mr Philp said: "That's nonsense. Nigel Lawson was a great chancellor in the 1980's, but that was 30, or 40, years ago, and he certainly doesn't speak for the modern parliamentary Conservative Party."

The remarks came as Labour's shadow Brexit secretary said the party has to do much more work to get its position on EU withdrawal across to voters. Sir Keir Starmer insisted Labour had a unified stance on Brexit but needed to make its message clearer.

He told the BBC: "We have obviously got to do much more work communicating our message.

"Labour's position is exactly as I set out over the summer. It was an agreed position signed off by the shadow cabinet. We have called for transitional arrangements after we leave the EU until we get a final deal. Inside the single market and in a customs union, subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. And the reason for that is to avoid a cliff-edge, which all businesses want to avoid, and make sure that our economy doesn't crash.

"No deal is going to be catastrophic for our country. I don't think everybody has appreciated what no deal really means. It means we haven't reached an agreement on trade. It means no agreement on the Northern Ireland border, that means you have got to have a hard border. No agreement on aviation, which means planes can't fly. No agreement on security and counter terrorism."

Sir Keir called for Mrs May to change the EU (Withdrawal) Bill after opposition MPs said it was not going before the Commons next week because the Government was afraid pro-Europe Tory rebels would back amendments to it.

He said: "The Tories' repeal bill is simply not fit for purpose. It would give huge and unaccountable power to Ministers and puts vital rights and protections at risk.

"Theresa May must start listening to the legitimate concerns of Labour and some of her own MPs by urgently changing approach."