- Davis to outline work today as he briefs Cabinet on ‘domestic preparedness’
- Downing Street said they are still confident of striking a deal with the EU
- With the EU threatening no deal, ministers preparing to show they can walk away
David Davis (pictured left emerging from Cabinet with Michael Fallon today) briefed senior ministers on the preparations for Brexit today
The Government will hire up to 8,000 extra staff and spend more than £600million preparing for a no-deal Brexit, it emerged today.
Brexit Secretary David Davis briefed the Cabinet today on the latest preparations for Britain’s departure from the EU.
And in a separate appearance before a parliamentary committee, he warned that that Britain’s divorce from the bloc will ‘probably favour the Union in terms of things like money and so on’.
The moves indicate the government is gearing up for a no-deal Brexit and while also laying the groundwork for a hefty divorce bill.
Some £250million has already been spent on preparations for all scenarios from a comprehensive deal to crashing out after a failure of talks.
Another £412million will be budgeted for the rest of this Parliament, running up until 2022.
At the same time, thousands more civil servants – including up to 5,000 customs officials – will be hired by the Government.
The announcements came as Mr Davis told a House of Lords select committee he would travel to Brussels on Friday ahead of a resumption of official talks next week.
He added: ‘The withdrawal agreement, on balance, will probably favour the Union in terms of things like money and so on, whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will be important to both of us.’
Revealing the update given to ministers today, Theresa May’s official spokesman said: ‘The Cabinet heard that the Government’s first priority remains to agree a deep and special partnership that is good for the UK and good for the EU, and that is what we are working towards.
‘Alongside the negotiations in Brussels, it is crucial that we are putting our own domestic preparations in place so that we are ready at the point that we leave the EU.
‘Cabinet heard many of these will be needed even in our preferred scenario of a bold and ambitious deal – for example, implementing either of our proposed customs arrangements will require investment in new systems and customs officers by HMRC.’
The spokesman said preparatory work has been ‘accelerated’ in recent months and work was underway across 300 different projects.
The spokesman added: ‘Each of these plans prepares the country for the range of negotiated outcomes and a ‘no deal’ scenario for a policy area affected by the UK leaving the EU.
‘The plans set out detailed delivery timelines including, for example, to recruit and train new staff; to design and procure IT systems; and to deliver the necessary legislative and regulatory changes.’
Downing Street yesterday said Mrs May remained ‘confident’ of striking an exit deal with the EU.
Downing Street yesterday said Theresa May (pictured outside No 10 yesterday) remained ‘confident’ of striking an exit deal with the EU
But, with Brussels still refusing to open formal talks on trade, ministers are under pressure to show they are ready to walk away without a deal.
The Department for Exiting the EU last night published a list of 58 sectors of the economy where it is undertaking economic analysis of the impact of Brexit.
The studies cover everything from aviation and agriculture to car manufacturing and tourism. Even sectors such as gambling, film and space engineering are covered.
A spokesman for the department last night said the analysis was designed ‘to support progress in the negotiations and ensure we ready for Brexit whatever the outcome’.
Sources said the results would not be published because doing so ‘would undoubtedly be detrimental to our interests in the negotiation’.
But Mr Davis was thought likely to tell the Cabinet the work shows the government is serious about preparing for the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal.
It includes an analysis of the potential impact of leaving the EU on a range of sectors and how any damage might be reduced.
The move is likely to increase pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond to release more cash for the preparations in next month’s Budget.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was among the ministers arriving for today’s Cabinet discussion on Brexit inside No 10 (pictured)
Environment Secretary Michael Gove (left) and Justice Secretary David Lidington (right) were also in Downing Street for the meeting
Commons leader Andrea Leadsom (pictured arriving at No 10 today) is likely to update the Cabinet on crucial Brexit legislation
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid (left) and Attorney General Jeremy Wright (right) also attended No 10 for the Cabinet meeting today
Concerns have been raised that border controls will not be ready in time for the UK to leave the EU in March 2019 without a transitional deal.
But, in a letter to peers last night, Mr Davis said a new customs system was ‘on track to be delivered in January 2019’.
Mrs May’s official spokesman said that ‘all contingencies’ will be discussed at today’s Cabinet, including the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
‘It is looking at Brexit preparations for all contingencies,’ said the spokesman.
‘That obviously does include ‘no deal’, but as the Prime Minister has said on many occasions, we are working towards getting a deal and we are confident that we will do so.’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was also among the arrivals for the meeting of senior ministers this morning
Scotland Secretary David Mundell (left) and Wales Secretary Alun Cairns (right) turned out for this morning’s Cabinet meeting
Brexit Secretary David Davis is expected to ‘take the lead’ in the Cabinet discussion, said the spokesman.
‘Cabinet has been updated on Brexit preparations regularly. This is another opportunity to do so,’ said the spokesman.
Asked whether ministers would discuss the possibility of Brexit not happening, he said: ‘We have been very clear that we are leaving the European Union.’