Britain ramps up preparations for no-deal Brexit
29 July 2019
The British government under the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ramping up preparations to leave the European Union on 31 October, even without an agreement, in case the European Union leaders refuse to renegotiate the Brexit deal, senior ministers said on Sunday.
Johnson is reported to have already put leading Brexit supporter Michael Gove in charge of ‘no deal’ preparations, according to the Sunday Times newspaper. Simultaneously, the newspaper said, the government is undertaking “intensive efforts” to secure a better deal from the EU.
“We still hope they will change their minds, but we must operate on the assumption that they will not ... No deal is now a very real prospect and we must make sure that we are ready,” Gove wrote.
The new UK government also has the assurance from the Trump administration that the United States is working on a free trade agreement with Britain, which could make any fresh deal with the EU insignificant.
The Johnson government that came to power on Wednesday, seems to be working on the assumption that the European Union will not renegotiate its Brexit deal.
The prime minister, however, has promised to deliver Brexit by the end of October “no ifs or buts”.
The EU has said repeatedly that the deal cannot be reopened, which would mean that the UK will need to boost spending on a no-deal Brexit if it comes about. “Planning for no deal is now this government’s no 1 priority,” Gave said, adding, “every penny needed” for no deal preparations would be made available.
Gove said the government would be launching “one of the biggest peacetime public information campaigns this country has seen” to get people and businesses ready for a ‘no deal’ exit.
The Sunday Times reported that Dominic Cummings, the mastermind behind the 2016 referendum campaign to leave the EU and now a senior aide to Johnson, told a meeting of the prime minister’s advisers that he had been tasked with delivering Brexit “by any means necessary”.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, new Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said: “In my first day in office ... I tasked officials to urgently identify where more money needs to be invested to get Britain fully ready to leave on October 31 – deal or no deal. And next week I will be announcing significant extra funding to do just that.”
Javid, a former interior minister, said this would include funding for 500 new Border Force officers.
Asked by Sky News where the money would be coming from, junior Treasury minister Rishi Sunak said it was “not a blank cheque” for spending but that Britain could afford to borrow more.
Theresa May’s Brexit deal incorporates the tricky Irish backstop, an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of a hard border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland by provisionally keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU. Johnson wants this to go – with or without a Brexit deal.
The Irish backstop was also the main reason for the rejection of the divorce agreement his predecessor Theresa May reached with the EU.
“You can’t just reheat the dish that’s been sent back and expect that will make it more palatable,” Gove wrote. “We need a new approach and a different relationship. Critically, we need to abolish the backstop.”
Opposition parties and some members of the ruling Conservative Party have threatened to try and block Johnson taking Britain out of the EU without a divorce deal.
Former Chancellor Philip Hammond, who quit last week before Johnson took office, held talks with the opposition Labour Party about how to stop a no-deal Brexit, according to a report in the Observer newspaper.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also said on Sunday his party would do everything he could to prevent the country leaving the EU without a deal.
US economy grew 2.1% in Q2, says commerce secretary Wilbur Ross
US real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 per cent in the second quarter (April-June) of the current as per figures released by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
“The Trump economy is growing strong and, on the heels of 3.1 per cent growth in the first quarter, is poised to continue expanding,” said secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross. “President Trump’s ambitious agenda of deregulation, tax reform, and job creation is making the US the premier place for business, and is restoring our position as an economic leader on the world stage.”
The Trump administration’s policies have delivered repeated wins for American workers. In July, the current economic expansion became the largest in US history – a testament to the strength of President Trump’s business-friendly policies.
In the second quarter, consumer spending, the engine of the US economy, surged at a 4.3 per cent annual rate, as spending on goods rose at the fastest rate since the first quarter of 2006.
The economy beat expectations again in June by adding 224,000 jobs, the last month of the second quarter, and averaging 129,000 jobs added per month over the past year. Since the President’s election, the country has added nearly 5 million jobs, while the manufacturing industry alone has added more than 500,000. The tight labor market benefitted American workers in another way in June as nominal average hourly earnings rose by 3.1 per cent over the previous 12 months, meeting or surpassing 3.0 per cent growth for the 11th month in a row. Before 2018, nominal average hourly wage gains had not reached 3.0 per cent since 2009.