The Brexit deadline is now officially less than three months away and the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised the UK will leave the European Union by that deadline come what may. Currently, a no deal Brexit could be “catastrophic” for the UK according to a number of trade organisations, experts and politicians. To protect the country, new Chancellor Sajid Javid today pledged additional funding towards helping the country prepare for a no deal exit from the European Union.
The plans announced by Chancellor Sajid Javid came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to chair his first exit strategy meeting.
The funding plans include capital spent on stockpiling medicines, employing more border force officers and upgrading transport infrastructure at ports.
There will also be more money set aside to ease traffic congestion in Kent, tackle queues created by border delays and funding one of the biggest peacetime advertising campaigns in British history.
The additional funds bring the total amount of money set aside to prepare for Brexit to £6.3 billion – an additional £2.1 billion added to the original £4.2 billion allocated by former chancellor Philip Hammond.
Sajid 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 October 31 – deal or no-deal.”
The £2.1 billion announced by Mr Javid will include:
Brexit border: £344 million for border and customs operations to hire 500 new Border Force officers, support for passport processing, improved infrastructure at ports and extra cash for Operation Brock which is the plan to cope with traffic chaos in Kent
Medicine: £434 million to ensure vital medicines are available allowing for mitigation plans for increased freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling
Businesses: £108 million to support businesses, including a national programme of business readiness and “helping exporters to prepare for, and capitalise on, new opportunities”
Advertising campaign: £138 million for a public information campaign, information for Britons living abroad and support for areas including Northern Ireland
United Kingdom: The government will make a further £1 billion available for government departments and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Of the £4.2 billion, the interior ministry which oversees the immigration system has been allocated £935 million to prepare for no deal, according to a document published by the finance ministry in June.
Additionally, the environment ministry was allocated £787.5 million and the department for revenue and customs was given £676.7 million.
The Labour Party however believes that the measures calling them an “appalling waste of tax-payers’ cash”.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the extra funding was “all for the sake of Boris Johnson’s drive towards a totally avoidable no-deal.”
He added: “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.”
Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman Chuka Umunna agreed with Labour saying the money was a “drop in the ocean”.
He said: “They promised us an extra £350m each week for the NHS, now they are making more money available just to ensure access to medicine.”
However, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak said most of the spending would be needed anyway to adjust for leaving the EU.