The British government is working on the assumption that the European Union will not renegotiate its Brexit deal and is ramping up preparations to leave the bloc on Oct. 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”, has said he 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.
“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.
The Sunday Times 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”.
Ministers are preparing for a no-deal emergency budget in the week of Oct. 7, the newspaper added.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, new finance minister Sajid Javid said he had ordered no deal preparations in his Treasury department to be stepped up.
“In my first day in office … 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. And next week I will be announcing significant extra funding to do just that,” he said.
Javid, a former interior minister, said this would include funding for 500 new Border Force officers.