Bailouts, blame and broken glass: UK papers paint grim picture of possible no-deal Brexit

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PM ‘taking control’ of no-deal planning amid reports supermarkets told to stockpile and Merkel allegedly baying for blood

The Sunday papers were dominated by Sunday’s latest Brexit talks deadline.
The Sunday papers were dominated by Sunday’s latest Brexit talks deadline.
The Sunday papers were dominated by Sunday’s latest Brexit talks deadline.

Last modified on Sun 13 Dec 2020 05.11 EST

The Brexit talks deadline gives the Sunday newspapers plenty of material as they report variously on possible food shortages, industry bailouts and the alleged desire of German chancellor Angela Merkel to see Britain “crawl across broken glass”.

Ministers have warned supermarkets to stockpile food amid possibilities of a no-deal Brexit, with shortages feared as talks with the European Union remain deadlocked, the Sunday Times newspaper reports.

It says that Boris Johnson is set to take control of planning if Britain opts for no deal and will chair an exit operations committee to prepare the response. Suppliers of medicines, medical devices and vaccines have been told to stockpile six weeks’ worth at secure locations in the United Kingdom, the report added.

The Sunday Telegraph headline says “Billions in no-deal help for farmers and factories” as it reports that the government has identified four areas of the economy – sheep farmers, fishermen, car manufacturers and chemical suppliers – that are most at risk of EU tariffs if Britain is catapulted out of the bloc without a trade deal.

The funding package could be worth between £8-10bn, the paper adds.

There is a more lurid image on the front of the Mail on Sunday, whose front page headline claims “Merkel wants Britain ‘to crawl across broken glass’”. It cites an unspecified “source” as saying that the German chancellor was “determined” to see Britain suffer rather than reach a compromise on the sticking points of future government aid and fishing.

It also has the line that Johnson is “taking control” of no-deal planning by chairing a “super-committee” to run alongside the existing no-deal preparation group chaired by Michael Gove.

The Sunday Express, pugnacious as ever, proclaims “No-deal: we are ready!”, with a strapline reading “Britain says EU offer is ‘unacceptable’ as PM unveils plan to avoid Brexit chaos”.

The Observer reports on despair among senior Tories at the prospect of a no deal, led by Lord Heseltine. “Tory grandees’ fury over PM’s ‘nationalist’ no-deal Brexit”, the headline reads, and quotes the former cabinet minister as saying that he knows personally that several current cabinet members share his belief that leaving without an agreement will be the worst decision taken by a British government in modern times.

“This government will be – and should be – held responsible for quite simply the worst peacetime decision of modern times. I know personally of members of the cabinet who believe this as firmly as I do. I cannot understand their silence,” Hesltine writes for the paper.

The Sunday Mirror’s forlorn headline is “Hours from a no deal”, as it reports that there are “fears of huge food price rises and job cuts” if Britain leaves without a deal and has to pay tariffs to import goods from the EU.

There is also despair in Scotland where the Scotland on Sunday devotes its front page to the “Brexit muddle” as it investigates EU subsidies, the politicians who have benefited from them and what the future holds.

The Herald on Sunday predicts the “The world’s most vicious break-up”, but it’s not even talking about Brexit, it’s referring to the possibility that the current track will lead to Scotland leaving the UK, or “Scexit”.