Boris Johnson orders Michael Gove to 'turbo-boost' no-deal Brexit planning

Posted On: 
25th July 2019

Michael Gove has been put in charge of "turbo-boosting" plans for a no deal Brexit by Boris Johnson.

Mr Gove has been handed the job of Minister for the Cabinet Office.

The new Prime Minister has ordered his Cabinet Office minister to speed up the preparations put in place by Theresa May’s administration and made further funds available to help Whitehall do so.

Mr Gove, who was moved from Environment Secretary in this week’s reshuffle, will work with his former aide and controversial political strategist Dominic Cummings, the former Vote Leave campaign director who has been hired as an advisor by Mr Johnson.

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Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said: "I have today instructed the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to make these preparations his top priority. 

"I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to mobilise the Civil Service to deliver this outcome should it become necessary. And the Chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available."

A spokesperson for Mr Johnson confirmed that preparations would be be ramped up across the board in the run-up to 31 October, after the PM declared the UK would be leaving on that date "no ifs, no buts".

Speaking after Mr Johnson delivered his first Commons statement as PM, the spokesperson said Mr Gove was "getting stuck into that straight away".

Number 10 said Mr Gove had been charged with "turbo-boosting those preparations" to "go further and faster to build upon" work done in the run-up to Britain's original Brexit date of 29 March.

It will involve "big public communications campaign", Mr Johnson's spokesperson said, adding: "The PM has said he wants to send a very clear message to the country we need to be ready for the opportunities provided by Brexit - but also the consequences of leaving without a deal.”

A total of £4.2 billion has already been allocated for no-deal planning, but Mr Gove will have access to further funds, the spokesman said.

"The PM instructed the Chancellor to make sure all funds necessary are available," he said. "And the Chancellor has agreed to that."

It means that Steve Barclay’s brief as Brexit Secretary - the position he retained from Mrs May’s final Cabinet - will place him as lead ministerial negotiator, in a role described by Number 10 as "Michel Barnier’s counterpart”.

But the spokesman confirmed Mr Johnson would be taking the lead role as he seeks to get a new deal, with the PM "obviously the chief negotiator".