Plans to test the UK Border Force passport control systems have been unveiled at the latest Cabinet meeting after Prime Minister Theresa May’s right-hand man David Lidington suggested no-deal planning should now be the “principle operational focus” of the Government. A minister said: “We will be testing the border from end to end.” Mr Lidington’s intervention is said to be a compromise between Brexiteers who wanted the excesses to be “central planning assumption” and Remainers, who asked for contingency procedures to be a last resort. The drills come are Chancellor Philip Hammond hinted at plans to slash business taxes and encourage more investment should a no-deal Brexit be on the cards.
The latest Brexit news comes after Mrs May made a Christmas plea for a united front in the wake of negotiations for her “better deal”.
After urging Brussels to negotiate over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, Mrs May also asked Brexiteers and Remainers to “come together”.
Writing exclusively or the Daily Express, she said: “I know that when the British people come together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.”
In a warning shot to MPs still squabbling over her Brexit deal, the Prime Minister warns that Westminster is in danger of losing sight of the concerns of ordinary voters.
“People don’t talk only about Europe,” the Prime Minister said, adding there is an urgent need to tackle the housing crisis, raise school standards and the NHS.
She also likened the country to a family coming together at Christmas and putting past disagreements behind it.
She said: “It’s a time when we find it within ourselves to put aside our differences and focus on what really matters.”
Mrs May will spend Christmas Day with husband Philip in her Maidenhead constituency in Berkshire and will also attend a local church service.
Government negotiators are expected to resume talks with their Brussels counterparts soon after the Christmas break in the search for legal guarantees that the backstop will be limited, to prevent the UK being trapped in the EU’s customs union indefinitely.
Olly Robbins met EU negotiators on Wednesday in an effort to reach agreement by the second week in January.
Mrs May’s Cabinet allies were yesterday said to be plotting to keep her in Downing Street for another two years following the threat from a vote of no confidence that saw her cling to power mid-December.