The government is “operating on the assumption” that Britain will leave the EU without a deal on October 31, Michael Gove has said.
The new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who is in charge of no-deal preparations in the Cabinet Office, said there was a “very real prospect” that an agreement would not be struck with Brussels before the Halloween deadline.
With a new prime minister, a new government and a new clarity of mission, we will exit the EU on October 31. No ifs. No butsMICHAEL GOVE Chancellor of The Duchy of Lancaster
It came as the government signalled it was “turbocharging” its no-deal preparations and would not take part in meaningful Brexit talks with the EU unless the Irish border backstop is removed from the Withdrawal Agreement.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported to have put together a Brexit “war cabinet” of six key ministers, tasked with delivering EU withdrawal on October 31 “by any means necessary”.
And Chancellor Sajid Javid said there would be “significant extra funding” this week to get Britain “fully ready to leave” by the October deadline, with or without a deal.
The additional spending will include financing one of the country’s “biggest ever public information campaigns” to ensure individuals and businesses are ready for a no-deal exit, Mr Javid said.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Gove said that, while the aim was still to leave with a deal, the government needed to prepare for every eventuality.
“With a new prime minister, a new government and a new clarity of mission, we will exit the EU on October 31. No ifs. No buts. No more delay. Brexit is happening,” he said.
“The EU’s leaders have, so far, said they will not change their approach,” he added. “We still hope they will change their minds, but we must operate on the assumption that they will not.”
Mr Javid told the Sunday Telegraph that, “under my leadership, the Treasury will have new priorities and will play its full role in helping to deliver Brexit”, in a swipe at his predecessor, Philip Hammond.
He added that he planned to fund 500 new Border Force officers and look at new infrastructure around the country’s ports to minimise congestion and ensure goods can flow.
Treasury Chief Secretary Rishi Sunak told Sky News: “We are prepared to enter into negotiations with the spirit of friendship and determination but if the EU doesn’t want to do that it is right we are absolutely prepared for that.
“We are turbocharging preparations for no deal. That is the government’s number one priority.”
The Scottish Government’s Brexit Secretary Michael Russell said a no-deal Brexit would be “utterly unacceptable. Anyone seriously proposing it, or unconcerned about it arising, needs to change course immediately.
“The UK is not, and cannot be, ready for a no-deal EU exit on October 31 – such an outcome would inevitably cause very significant disruption to the lives of ordinary citizens as well as to businesses and long-term harm to our economy.”
Meanwhile polling suggests the Tories have received a “Boris bounce” after the election of their new leader.
Since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister, the Conservatives have gained 10 points to stand at 30 per cent , a survey by Deltapoll for the Mail on Sunday showed.
That puts them five points ahead of Labour at 25 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats on 18 per cent and the Brexit Party on 14 per cent .
But if Labour was to drop Jeremy Corbyn as leader, the poll says the party would shoot into the lead at 34 per cent , with the Tories on 28 per cent , the Brexit Party on 14 per cent and the Lib Dems on 13 per cent .
An Opinium poll for the Observer put support for the Tories on 30 per cent, up seven points, ahead of Labour on 28 per cent, up three points. The poll put the Lib Dems on 16 per cent , up one point, and the Brexit Party on 15 per cent, down seven.