Hammond and Clark thank bosses for no-deal risk warnings

Philip Hammond and Greg Clark Image copyright Getty Images

Business Secretary Greg Clark and the Chancellor Philip Hammond thanked business leaders for helping to highlight the economic damage a no-deal scenario might do to the economy.

That prospect helped focus minds among cabinet ministers in a marathon and fractious meeting at Number 10, according to sources present. "When evidence and facts met hopes and aspirations the evidence and facts won," said one minister.

However, one attendee described the backstop arrangement, the fallback position if a trade deal is not secured by December 2020, as unsatisfactory.

Not in the sense it gave the EU too much power, as some pro-Brexit politicians have complained, but in that it might result in unwelcome additional checks and oversight of goods travelling between the UK and Europe.

As a minister said, people around the table have become much more familiar with advanced manufacturing supply chains.

Offsetting that threat was the specific possibility of extending the transition period beyond December 2020.

However, ministers said they did not expect firms to alter their planning for a no deal outcome in March given the challenge of getting this deal through parliament.

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