By Jon Craig, chief political correspondent
Sajid Javid is announcing an emergency spending blitz of more than £2bn to prepare for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.In a major policy shift after he succeeded pro-Remain Philip Hammond as Chancellor, there will be an immediate Brexit cash boost of £1.1bn.
Leading Tory Brexiteers have claimed Mr Hammond, who has now vowed to oppose no-deal from the back benches, “handicapped” preparation.
Philip Hammond has said he will oppose a no-deal Brexit from the backbenches.
Mr Javid is also making a further £1bn available in case it is needed, in a move the Treasury claims means a doubling of Brexit funding this year.But the cash for no-deal has been condemned by shadow chancellor John McDonnell as a waste of money that should be spent on schools and hospitals.
Among the measures the extra funding will be spent on are:
An extra 500 border force officers, meaning there will be 1,000 more this year;Avoiding delays in processing UK passport applications;Improving transport around ports and manging traffic disruption in Kent;Ensuring continuing supplies of vital medicines and medical products;An information campaign to help the public and business be ready for October 31The Treasury claims the new Chancellor, a former Remainer who now backs Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy, is splashing the cash “to turbo-charge no-deal preparations”.
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And Mr Javid says that since he was appointed Chancellor a week ago the Treasury now has “new priorities” and “will play its full part” in helping deliver Brexit on October 31.
:: Listen to All Out Politics on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker”With 92 days until the UK leaves the European Union it’s vital that we intensify our planing to ensure we are ready,” said Mr Javid.”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.”The Treasury says the extra money will ensure government departments step up vital operation preparations across the country as the UK leaves the EU on October 31.
It claims to have now made £6.3bn available to prepare for Brexit, including £4.2bn in this financial year alone.Of the extra funding, £344m is earmarked for border and customs operations. Besides more border force officers, there will be money for training new staff and investing in better IT.Some £434m will be available for safeguarding medical supplies, through boosting freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling.There will be £108m available to help businesses get ready for Brexit, including helping exporters capitalise on new opportunities.A further £138m is for “the biggest ever public information campaign”, increasing consular support and information for Britons living abroad and support for local areas, including Northern Ireland.But Mr McDonnell said: “This is an appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash, all for the sake of Boris Johnson’s drive towards a totally avoidable no-deal.”This government could have ruled out no-deal, and spent these billions on our schools, hospitals, and people.”
Chuka Umunna has called the money a ‘drop in the ocean’
Chuka Umunna, the treasury spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said: “This extra money is a drop in the ocean when compared to the huge hit to the exchequer of at least £90bn – according to the Chancellor’s predecessor – of a no-deal Brexit.”They promised us an extra £350m each week for the NHS, now they are making more money available just to ensure access to medicine.”This is a political choice made by an irresponsible government. The Liberal Democrats are the only party that can get into government which is committed to stopping Brexit – so we can use public monies to tackle the real problems the country faces.”
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