There’ll be no Brexit, just a parliamentary stalemate – Lord Ashdown
Lord Ashdown’s views echoed those of an ex-aide to David Davis.
Britain will remain in the European Union because the Government will not be able to deliver a hard or soft Brexit, Paddy Ashdown has said.
The former Liberal Democrat leader accused the Government of being incapable of delivering “anything” and predicted there would be a “something quite close to a parliamentary stalemate” next spring.
Lord Ashdown, who was speaking at a fringe event at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth on Britain’s Brexit options, said: “My view is that the dysfunctionality, the dystopian hopeless dysfunctionality of this government, they can’t deliver anything – if you ask them to deliver the Sunday papers they couldn’t do it, or at least they’d have a row about it.
Ex-Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown predicts Brexit will never happen "because the Government can’t handle it"— Matt Dathan (@matt_dathan) September 18, 2017
“If you want to add up the reasons why Brexit is not going to happen, and I now believe on balance it’s not going to happen … it’s because the Government can’t handle it.
“It’s a huge task and they cannot get this through.
“They can neither deliver a hard Brexit because the House of Commons mathematics won’t allow them to do so, nor they can they deliver a soft Brexit because the ravenous beasts of the anti-Europeans number of 120 will rise up and devour Mrs May if they do.
“I have a suspicion that what’s going to happen is that at some stage in the not too distant future with a complete failure to negotiate any kind of deal and a parliament that can’t get through actually anything, and a government which wouldn’t know how to make it even if it could, is likely to end up in something quite close to parliamentary stalemate.
“At which case we are probably in the position where a referendum is actually the only way out of that.”
Lord Ashdown’s views echoed those of an ex-aide to David Davis, who told a fringe earlier on Monday that Brexit would not happen because there is not enough parliamentary support for leaving the single market.
James Chapman, the Brexit Secretary’s former chief of staff, said Britain’s attempt to leave the EU would collapse if MPs voted on leaving the European Economic Area (EEA).
He said Article 127 of the EEA Agreement would have to be triggered next March in order for Britain to leave the EEA.
Suggesting that Parliament must vote to repeal Article 127, like with Article 50, he said: “Is there a majority in the House of Commons … to leave the single market? No, there’s not – absolutely not.
“So the Government will not be able to get that through Parliament and at that point Brexit will collapse, because the British people will say, ‘We are going to have to stay in the single market and we will have pay more to stay in and we’re not going to be able to control free movement’.”