Ministers have been forced to confirm they are ‘not zombies’ after endless votes, constant deadlock and claims not nearly enough is being done to prepare for no-deal Brexit.
Accusing senior Tories of being the undead after another night of voting to further delay the Brexit date, a Labour MP fumed ‘we all had a late night last night’ but Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay was a ‘zombie secretary with zombie ministers’.
Speaking in the Commons, MP Barry Sheerman also said no-deal would be ‘crippling for parts of the UK’ with calls for ministers to do more to protect British industry.
He said MPs and professors are warning about a drop in GDP following Brexit and that many industrial towns and counties that voted Leave could see a particularly ‘crippling’ drop.
‘It is going to devastate this country’s manufacturing base,’ he warned.
Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng hit back, saying: ‘First of all, we are not zombies. I would like to confirm to the House that that is the case.’
Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman also raised concerns about a ‘crisis’ in dentistry, saying EU dentists could leave Britain.
While Labour MP Melanie Onn said the UK could be at risk from cheap imports of oil and gas following Brexit.
She said: ‘Total Lindsey oil refinery contacted me this week, just in the event that there is a no deal, to warn me of the risk of the equivalent of Chinese steel dumping, but with US gasoline, if we end up with zero per cent import tariffs.
‘That will result in a loss and a downgrade of up to 900 jobs in my Great Grimsby area.’
Mr Kwarteng said the best way to improve the situation for British manufacturers would be to back Theresa May’s deal and ‘end uncertainty’ for businesses.
He then asked Ms Onn why she had rejected the Prime Minister’s deal which, he said, would have brought stability to her constituents.
Ms Chapman said leaving without a deal would ‘affect everybody, not least our dentists’ and claimed a third of the 6,500 European qualified dental registrants intend to leave UK dentistry after Brexit.
‘The British Dental Association president Mark Armstrong said the Government has failed to even acknowledge the scale of the crisis,’ she warned.
Mr Kwarteng said: ‘It has always been a stated aim of the Government that there will be mutual recognition of qualifications.
‘This is not something which is controversial and I think it is something that will assure many people, many EU citizens in our country, that they can continue without any interruption or uncertainty to pursue their professions.’
Late last night, MPs voted 313 to 312 – a majority of just one – in favour of delaying the date of Brexit beyond April 12 to a date of Theresa May’s choosing.
Yvette Cooper, who tabled the Bill, said it had been a ‘very considered and thoughtful debate throughout’, and that MPs had ‘voted again to make clear the real concerns that there would be about a chaotic and damaging no deal’.
She said the Bill would ‘support the Prime Minister’s commitment to make sure we don’t end up with no deal on April 12’.
The Bill is now undergoing further scrutiny in the Lords before they will decide whether or not to make it law.