Britain to spend an extra $2.6 bn on no-deal Brexit planning

LONDON: Britain said it is ramping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit by spending an extra 2.1 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) to stockpile medicines, hire more border officials and fund one of the biggest peacetime advertising campaigns.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who took power last week, has pledged to leave the European Union without transitional arrangements in three months’ time unless the EU agrees to renegotiate the deal reached by his predecessor Theresa May.
In his first major policy announcement, new Finance Minister Sajid Javid said the outlay would allow the government to increase training for customs officials, hire more staff to deal with an expected increase in passport applications, and improve infrastructure around ports.
Javid said the United Kingdom’s economy was strong enough to cope with a no-deal Brexit and rejected criticism that the money would be better spent on healthcare or education.
“A lot of the work was going on but (what) we needed to do was turbo charge it to make sure we are properly, genuinely ready,” he said on a tour of a Tilbury Docks near London.
The main opposition Labour party branded the spending an “appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash” because the majority of lawmakers in parliament had made clear their intention to block an exit without a withdrawal agreement. Wrenching the United Kingdom out of the EU without a deal means there would be no formal transition arrangements to cover everything from post-Brexit pet passports to customs procedures on the Northern Irish border with EU member Ireland.
Many investors say a no-deal Brexit would send shock waves through the world economy, tip Britain into a recession, roil financial markets and weaken London’s position as the pre-eminent international financial centre.
Supporters of Brexit say that while there would be some short-term difficulties, the disruption of a no-deal Brexit has been overplayed and that in the long term, the United Kingdom would thrive if it left the EU.
Javid warned the EU that if a new deal is to be agreed then one of the most hotly contested elements of the divorce agreement — the Irish border backstop — will have to be struck out, something the bloc has repeatedly said it won’t agree to. “We have been clear we want to get a deal, but it has to be a different deal, a good deal, one that abolishes this undemocratic backstop, and if we cannot remove that backstop then we have to leave with no deal,” he said. — Reuters