Boris Johnson ‘confident’ that UK is prepared to leave EU without a deal
Officials insist the preference is still to leave with a deal.
A Brexit “no-deal readiness” report has been published by the Government, with Boris Johnson declaring that he can “confidently” say the UK is prepared to leave the EU without a deal on October 31.
The document includes details of the Government’s attempts to make sure that citizens and businesses are ready for Brexit at the end of the month.
It reiterates that the Government would prefer to leave the EU with a deal and says it “will work to the final hour to achieve one”.
In a foreword, the Prime Minister said leaving without a deal is “not the option I want”, but said it is vital to be as prepared as possible for all eventualities.
“That is why, when I became Prime Minister, I gave the order that preparing for no-deal is the central task of all officials, and why I asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – my friend and colleague Michael Gove – to take on one of the most important jobs in government: to prepare the UK for a no-deal Brexit.
“Over the last 76 days, the Chancellor has thrown himself into this role with his trademark enthusiasm.
“Thanks to his hard work, and the hard work of many other Cabinet colleagues and thousands of civil servants, we have made huge strides in preparedness, and can now confidently say that the UK is prepared to leave the EU without a deal on 31st October,” he said.
The paper says the Government has been preparing to leave without a deal since 2016, and in that time says it has announced more than £4 billion for Brexit planning before July 24 2019 and recruited up to 1,000 new staff to help maintain security and support flows at the border.
The report sets out the preparation underway to ensure that goods continue to flow smoothly across the UK and EU border after Brexit, with information given to traders, businesses and hauliers on what they need to do to prepare before October 31.
The Government said this includes HMRC sending 220,000 businesses guidance on the steps they need to take to import and export after Brexit.
A dedicated Support Unit will be set up for suppliers of medical goods in the health sector, with the aim of helping to ensure that companies have the necessary customs paperwork in place for border arrangements ahead of Brexit in a no-deal scenario.
The report sets out preparations that have been made including significant increases in the number of customs agents at the borders, a new import/ export helpline to answer businesses’ questions, and what is hailed as the largest ever government public information campaign to get public and business owners ready for Brexit.
It also says additional freight capacity has been secured, as well as preparations with suppliers and partners to ensure the stockpile of critical medicines and goods.
The report says that in the immediate aftermath, the UK and the EU would trade with each other on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
The paper says the UK will have an independent trade policy, adding: “We will be able to set our own tariffs, take our own decisions on regulatory issues, and create new and ambitious trade relationships around the world.”
The Government will be able to end free movement and introduce “a new, fairer immigration system that will prioritise skills and what people can contribute to the UK, rather than where they come from”, the document says, adding: “Our new points-based system will enable us to attract the skilled and talented workers we need for the economy to continue to prosper. ”
Mr Gove said: “This report sets out what will change if we leave without a deal and explains what the Government is doing to get ready.
“Significant preparations have been under way for the last three years and these have been accelerated under the Prime Minister’s leadership.
“At every point, the Government will be candid about any further challenges ahead as well as clear-eyed about the opportunities.
“Together, government, businesses and citizens are working so that we will be ready for Brexit on October 31 – and can look forward to the future with certainty and confidence.”