Speaking on BBC Newsnight, the senior Minister said it was time for Government to do the “responsible” thing and prepare for no deal. With MPs refusing to support the Prime Minister’s EU withdrawal agreement, chances of a no deal Brexit have increased. Business leaders and economic forecasters have predicted such an outcome would cause “chaos” for the UK.
Defying those with a pessimistic attitude about leaving the EU without an agreement, Mr Hancock has said he is “confident” his department is ready for such a scenario.
However, he said he remained hopeful of a deal being reached.
He told Newsnight’s Mark Urban: “I support the need for going to full preparation for no deal planning because it might happen, not because I want it to happen.
“We’ve instituted full no deal planning within the NHS and within the department already and I would like to see the whole of Government do the same because it is the responsible thing to do.”
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Reports emerged last month that Mr Hancock has told the Cabinet people would die unless an agreement was made.
But the West Suffolk MP has shrugged off the comments and said he was not worried about the NHS’s ability to cope with a no deal outcome.
He said: “If everybody does what they need to do then I have confidence that we can have the unhindered supply of medicines and medical devices and the other things that the NHS needs.
“Now, that relies not just on the Government and the NHS doing what they need to do, it also relies on other organisations like pharmaceutical companies for example.”
He confirmed his plan for a six weeks worth of stockpiling of medicines was “largely” under way.
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Joking about his preparations, he said: “I’ve become the largest buyer of fridges in the world, I didn’t expect that!”
Mr Hancock becomes the second minister is a matter of just days to offer an optimistic view on the UK’s ability to cope without an EU withdrawal Agreement.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday he too believed in the country’s preparations for a no deal.
While continuing to advocate for Mrs May’s deal, he argued the UK would cope if forced to leave the bloc without a temporary trade agreement.
He told The Sunday Telegraph: “I’ve always thought that even in a no-deal situation this is a great country, we’ll find a way to flourish and prosper.
“We’ve faced much bigger challenges in our history.”