Assuming EU will not budge, Britain ramps up preparations for no-deal Brexit

Publish Time: 2019-07-29 Author: From: CGTN

The British government is working on the assumption that the European Union (EU) will not renegotiate its Brexit deal and is ramping up preparations to leave the bloc on October 31 without an agreement, senior ministers said on Sunday. 

Boris Johnson, who took over as British prime minister on Wednesday with a promise to deliver Brexit by the end of October "no ifs or buts", plans to seek a new exit deal with the EU. The EU has said repeatedly that the deal cannot be reopened. 

Leading Brexit supporter Michael Gove, who Johnson has put in charge of "no deal" preparations, wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper that the government would undertake "intensive efforts" to secure a better deal from the EU. 

Michael Gove leaves No. 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, July 24, 2019. /VCG Photo

"We still hope they will change their minds, but we must operate on the assumption that they will not... No deal is now a very real prospect and we must make sure that we are ready," Gove wrote.

"Planning for no deal is now this government's No. 1 priority," he said, adding "every penny needed" for no deal preparations would be made available. 

Gove said the government would be launching "one of the biggest peacetime public information campaigns this country has seen" to get people and businesses ready for a "no deal" exit. 

Media also reported that Dominic Cummings, the mastermind behind the 2016 referendum campaign to leave the EU and now a senior aide to Johnson, told a meeting of the prime minister's advisers that he had been tasked with delivering Brexit "by any means necessary". 

Johnson has set up a "war cabinet" of six senior ministers to make decisions on Brexit and is preparing for a no-deal emergency budget in the week of October 7, the Sunday Times put.

Reheat the dish

Johnson has said the Irish backstop, an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of a hard border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland by provisionally keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU, must be removed from any Brexit deal.

Theresa May (L) makes a speech to the worlds media outside No. 10 before leaving for the last time as prime minister, July 24, 2019. /VCG Photo

It was one of the most hotly contested elements of the divorce agreement his predecessor Theresa May reached with the EU, and opposition to it was a key driver behind the deal being rejected three times by parliament. 

"You can't just reheat the dish that's been sent back and expect that will make it more palatable," Gove wrote. "We need a new approach and a different relationship. Critically, we need to abolish the backstop." 

Lawmakers from opposition parties and the governing Conservative Party have threatened to try and block Johnson taking Britain out of the EU without a divorce deal. 

The Observer newspaper reported that former finance minister Philip Hammond, who quit last week before Johnson took office, held talks with the opposition Labour Party about how to stop a no-deal Brexit. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday his party would do everything it could to prevent the country leaving the EU without a deal. 

Although Johnson has been adamant he will not hold an election before Brexit, his Conservative Party does not have a majority in parliament, is divided over Brexit and under threat of a no-confidence vote when parliament returns in September. 

Speculation of an early election to break the deadlock is likely to be fuel led by a YouGov opinion poll in the Sunday Times, which showed the Conservatives had opened up a 10-point lead over Labour since Johnson took over.

(Cover: Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech on domestic priorities at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, Britain, July 27, 2019. /Reuters Photo)

Source(s): Reuters

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