POLITICS
31/07/2019 22:31 BST

Chancellor Spends Another Billion Pounds On No-Deal Brexit Preparation

"A colossal waste of money", according to critics.

Britain will spend more than a billion extra pounds to try and ensure the supply of vital medicines, hire 500 border officers, and launch an advertising campaign to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Chancellor Sajid Javid announced an immediate £1.1bn cash boost for “critical” no-deal preparations so that Boris Johnson can fulfil his promise to leave the EU on October 31.

Javid will also make another £1bn available for government departments if they need extra funding to prepare for no deal - taking the total cash the Treasury has pledged for a no-deal Brexit to £6.3bn.

Critics described the spending as a “colossal waste of money” to deal with medicine and food shortages, a “problem his government is responsible for creating”.

PA Wire/PA Images
Johnson promoted Javid to chancellor last week

The extra cash announced by Javid includes £434m to ensure the supply of “vital” medicines and medical products that could get held up at the border as tariffs and checks are introduced as a result of leaving the EU.

The money will go towards transporting, warehousing and stockpiling the supplies, and the government will be hoping it can avoid the difficulties ex-transport secretary Chris Grayling got into when attempting to charter ferries for this purpose. 

A further £344m will help get border and customs operations ready, including an extra 500 border officers and a boost in the capacity to process UK passport applications to avoid delays.

Money will also go on improving transport infrastructure around ports like Dover and additional funding for “Operation Brock” to manage traffic disruption in Kent.

PA Wire/PA Images
A view of the M20 motorway near Maidstone in Kent, as one side of the main motorway to the Port of Dover closes for Operation Brock, a contraflow system between junctions 8 and 9 to ease congestion in Kent if traffic grinds to a standstill in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Customs agents will get more support for training staff and investing in better IT, so businesses can get help in filling out customs declarations, something they do not have to do as EU members.

Another £108m will be spent on helping businesses get ready, while £138m will be spent on public communications, including an advertising campaign, support for areas like Northern Ireland, and a boost in consular support for British expats.

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 £2.1bn will ensure we are ready to leave on 31 October - deal or no deal.” 

Naomi Smith, CEO of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign said: “This is a colossal waste of money for something both Parliament and the country don’t want.  

“We know a no-deal Brexit will mean shortages of foods and medicines, and we know it’ll cost the country a fortune. Now the new chancellor wants to throw billions more at the problem his government is responsible for creating. 

“Wasting money like this when we have so many other priorities is exactly why the country has turned against Brexit. We need to stop fixating on it so that we can fix the country.”