Boris Johnson tells civil service to ‘urgently and rapidly’ prepare for no-deal Brexit
Boris Johnson has ordered civil servants to “urgently and rapidly” ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.
The Prime Minister said laying the groundwork for leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement was now the Government’s “top priority”.
Mr Johnson set out the change of pace in a letter to all Whitehall staff.
He said the move would allow ministers to turn their focus to “vital issues that affect people’s lives” such as the NHS, education and crime.
“My approach to Brexit is simple, and I want you to be in no doubt about it,” he wrote.
“We must restore trust in our democracy, and fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people, by coming out of the European Union on 31 October.
“We will be leaving on this date, whatever the circumstances.
“I would very much prefer to leave with a deal – one that must abolish the anti-democratic Irish backstop, which has unacceptable consequences for our country.
“But I recognise this may not happen. That is why preparing urgently and rapidly for the possibility of an exit without a deal will be my top priority, and it will be the top priority for the Civil Service too.”
Mr Johnson said Whitehall staff preparing the country for a no-deal exit “must engage and communicate clearly” with the public and businesses on how the outcome could affect them.
It follows reports that his senior adviser, Edward Lister, has cancelled all leave for top government advisers until after the deadline.
Speculation has also been mounting in recent days that the PM could call a snap general election, which would take place within days of Britain leaving the EU.
In his letter, Mr Johnson added that ministers would “address the other issues that matter to the people of this country”, citing pledges to increase funding in health, on tackling crime and on schools.
“This Government will strive to improve standards for everyone, to fuel economic growth and entrepreneurialism, and to ensure a strong, well-funded public sector – and, with your help, we will do so while entrenching and intensifying the union between our four nations,” he added.
“So while there are no grounds for complacency, there is every reason for optimism.
“Together we can achieve amazing things for our country.”