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Government’s no-deal assumption faces Tory and Labour opposition

Micheal Gove says Whitehall is operating under ‘the assumption’ of exiting the EU without a deal.

Michael Gove has said the UK is operating on the assumption it will leave the EU without a deal (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Michael Gove has said the UK is operating on the assumption it will leave the EU without a deal (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Boris Johnson is facing Tory and Labour opposition to the Government’s assumption that Britain is now looking at a no-deal Brexit from the EU.

Scottish Tory chief Ruth Davidson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have both attacked the idea of quitting the bloc without an agreement on October 31.

The push back came as Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the Government is “operating on the assumption” that Britain will leave the EU without a deal.

Writing in The Sunday Times, he said that while the aim was still to leave with a deal, the Government needed to prepare for every eventuality.

“With a new prime minister, a new government, and a new clarity of mission, we will exit the EU on October 31. No ifs. No buts. No more delay. Brexit is happening,” he said.

“The EU’s leaders have, so far, said they will not change their approach — it’s the unreformed withdrawal agreement, take it or leave it,” he added.

“We still hope they will change their minds, but we must operate on the assumption that they will not.”

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Boris Johnson has reportedly put together a ‘war cabinet’ of six key ministers to deliver Brexit (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Chancellor Sajid Javid has said there will be “significant extra funding” this week to get Britain “fully ready to leave” the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.

The additional spending will include financing one of the country’s “biggest ever public information campaigns” to ensure individuals and businesses are ready for a no-deal exit, Mr Javid told the Sunday Telegraph.

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Sajid Javid will announce new funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit (Matt Dunham/PA)

“Under my leadership, the Treasury will have new priorities and will play its full role in helping to deliver Brexit,” he said.

“In my first day in office as Chancellor, I tasked officials to urgently identify where more money needs to be invested to get Britain fully ready to leave on October 31 – deal or no deal.”

He added that he planned to fund 500 new Border Force officers and look at new infrastructure around the country’s ports to minimise congestion and ensure goods can flow.

However, Ms Davidson said she would not support no deal.

The Scottish Conservative leader also insisted that her position in the Scottish Parliament exists independently of Westminster and that she does not have to sign any no-deal pledge to continue to serve.

Ms Davidson said: “Where I differ with the UK Government is on the question of a no-deal Brexit.

“I don’t think the UK Government should pursue a no-deal Brexit, and if it comes to it, I won’t support it.

“I wrote to tell the former prime minister Theresa May that last year and I confirmed my position to her successor when I spoke to him last week.

“As leader of the party in Scotland, my position exists independently of government. I don’t have to sign a no-deal pledge to continue to serve.”

Mr Corbyn would not say exactly when he would call a vote of no confidence against Mr Johnson, but said he would “look at the situation” when Parliament returns in September as he opposed no deal.

He added: “Parliament gets back in September and I think it’s at that point we will look at the situation.

“But it’s also up to the Prime Minister and what he decides to do as well because if he is trying to take us out on a no-deal Brexit at the end of October we will oppose that.

“I can guarantee you this, we will do everything to prevent a no-deal Brexit, we will do everything to challenge this Government, and we will do it at a time of our choosing.”

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said he was working on a cross-party alliance to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

He told The Observer: “The political direction of travel under Boris Johnson is clear, and so it is more important than ever that we build a strong cross-party alliance to stop a no-deal Brexit.

“That work will intensify over the summer, before Parliament resumes in September.”

Meanwhile, polls have suggested the Tories were boosted by a “Boris bounce” after the election of their new leader.

Since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister after being declared party chief by Tory members, the Conservatives have gained 10 points to stand at 30%, a survey by Deltapoll for the Mail on Sunday showed.

That puts them five points ahead of Labour at 25%, with the Liberal Democrats on 18% and the Brexit Party on 14%.

But if Labour was to drop Jeremy Corbyn as leader, the poll says the party would shoot into the lead at 34%, with the Tories on 28%, the Brexit Party on 14% and the Lib Dems on 13%.

The poll also found that opinion was evenly divided on the question of whether Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds should live with him at Number 10.

While 33% backed such a move, the same number were opposed to it.

Asked how they would feel if Mr Johnson married their daughter, 57% said they would be sad, while 16% said they would be happy.

The poll came as Mr Johnson set out an eye-catching domestic stall promising a £3.6 billion boost for left-behind towns.

He also pledged funding for a new rail link between Manchester and Leeds and promised action on housing and crime, despite insisting he was not preparing for a snap autumn election.

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