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Sun, 5 April 2020

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Sajid Javid announces new £2bn fund to ramp up no-deal Brexit preparations

Sajid Javid announces new £2bn fund to ramp up no-deal Brexit preparations
3 min read

Sajid Javid is making an extra £2bn available to make sure the UK is ready for a no-deal Brexit.

The Chancellor said the cash had been found to ensure "vital" areas of the economy were prepared to handle the UK leaving the EU without a deal in 92 days time.

But Labour's John McDonnell said it was "an appalling waste of taxpayers' cash".

More than £1bn is being made available immediately in order to recruit 500 more border force officers, ensure the availability of vital medicines and launch an advertising blitz to help businesses and individuals get ready for a hard Brexit on 31 October.

The chances of no-deal have risen since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and insisted the UK will be leaving "come what may" on Hallowe'en.

He has also insisted that the EU must agree to abolish the Irish backstop before he will even begin a fresh round of negotiations with Brussels.

Announcing the new spending splurge, Mr Javid said: "With 92 days until the UK leaves the European Union it's vital that we intensify our planning to ensure we are ready.

"We want to get a good deal that abolishes the anti-democratic backstop. But if we can't get a good deal, we'll have to leave without one. This additional £2.1 billion will ensure we are ready to leave on 31 October - deal or no deal."

Under the plans, £344m will be spent preparing the UK's border and customs arrangements, including the recruitment of additional border officials.

A total of £434m will be spent to ensure an adequate stockpile of vital medicines will be available, with funds being spent on increased freight capacity and storage.

Meanwhile, a £108m pot will be used to launch a "national programme of business readiness" to prepare exporters for a new trading enviroment outside of the EU.

A further £138m will be spent on a new "information campaign" to prepare the public ahead of the Hallowe'en deadline.

Whitehall departments and the devolved administrations will also be able to bid for an additional £1bn if they need it.

The major new cash injection follows criticism from Brexiteers that Mr Javid's predecessor Philip Hammond had resisted loosening the purse strings to prepare for a cliff-edge exit.

Responding to the announcement, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: 2This is an appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash, all for the sake of Boris Johnson’s drive towards a totally avoidable No Deal.

"This government could have ruled out no deal, and spent these billions on our schools, hospitals, and people.

"Labour is a party for the whole of the UK, so we'll do all we can to block a no deal, crash-out Brexit – and we’ll deliver a transformative economic policy that delivers for the many, not the few.”

The Government's plans were also criticised by anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain, who branded them a "colossal waste of money".

The group's CEO, Naomi Smith, added: "We know a no-deal Brexit will mean shortages of foods and medicines, and we know it'll cost the country a fortune. Now the new Chancellor want to throw more billions at the problem his government is responsible for creating.

"Wasting money like this when we have so many other priorities is exactly why the country has turned against Brexit. We need to stop fixating on it so that we can fix the country."


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