The prime minister will meet with her cabinet on January 2 to discuss the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and rally support for her deal, the Financial Times reports. Writing exclusively for the Daily Express this weekend Mrs May made an impassioned appeal for Britons to “come together” in a new national effort to build a better country for all outside the EU. She also urged MPs to back her Brussels deal as she talks of her confidence that Brexit will be delivered on schedule.
Having already ramped up no-deal Brexit planning, by seconding 600 civil servants to “front line” departments and allocating a further £2billion to preparations, the meeting will aim to maximise the threat of a no-deal Brexit one week before debates begin in the Commons.
One minister described the meeting as “all about show really. It’s to prove that we are pulling out the stops to prepare for the worst.”
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, is said by allies to be “petrified” of a disorderly no-deal departure from the EU, which he believes could leave Britain with severe food shortages if the Dover-Calais route becomes blocked.
It has been reported that Mr Gove will accept a military planer to help ensure that shops in rural communities have enough food in the event of a no-deal.
After the prime minister pulled the vote on her withdrawal agreement two weeks ago, Tory officials have expressed growing concern that the vote will pass the House of Commons next month.
Mrs May hopes to win over Eurosceptic Tory rebels and secure the 10 votes from the Democratic Unionist party to ensure her Brussels deal passes Parliament.
In recent days her allies have detected a softening tone from critics, particularly over the “backstop” mechanism, designed to keep the border between Northern Ireland and Irish Republic border open after Brexit.
One senior Government source said: “It’s now very much our expectation that we can win this vote.”
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.
Oliver Robbins, the most senior official in the UK negotiating team, was in Brussels this week for talks in an effort to reach agreement by the second week in January.
But a spokesman from the European Commission said yesterday that there was no further negotiation because the withdrawal agreement had been agreed.
The vote for Mrs May’s Brexit deal has been rescheduled for the week of January 14 where she will need to achieve 320 votes in the Commons to get the deal approved.