We must avoid the national paralysis that a no-deal with Europe would deliver

Leaving the EU is a momentous task, but doing so without weakening the integrity of the UK is a constitutional challenge unlike any we have faced in modern times.

As deadline day for our departure draws closer the threats of a no-deal Brexit at the hands of Brexit extremists becomes more and more of a reality.

A no-deal Brexit would essentially leave the country in a state of paralysis, wreaking havoc here and in the EU.

Trade between the UK and the rest of the continent would be severely impacted, leaving businesses up and down the country - including in Lancashire - helpless through devastating new tariffs and red tape that would be imposed at the border.

Not to mention the wider effects to banking, air travel, energy supplies, interest rates, business loan reviews - to name but a few.

The same would be true for trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which would come to a standstill and a hard border effectively having to be reintroduced after years of frictionless trade.

Business relations aside, the damage  to the unity of the four nations which make up the UK would be at least striking and potentially irreversible, with consequences for our international standing.

Is this really a price worth paying just to leave the EU with no-deal? Some argue that these warnings are all part of so-called ‘Project Fear’, but they are not. This is reality.

Now is the time to strike a deal, not quit without one. If we do so, we risk weakening the integrity of the UK, endangering livelihoods and social cohesion across the country.