UK steps up 'no deal' Brexit plans, puts soldiers on standby
Updated 09:54, 22-Dec-2018
The British government on Tuesday said it was allocating two billion British pounds to fund Brexit and putting 3,500 troops on standby after ministers agreed to make no-deal planning "an operational priority."
The news came amid continued opposition to Prime Minister Theresa May's draft divorce deal, just 14 weeks before the country leaves the European Union (EU).
Following a meeting of her cabinet – the last before parliament breaks for Christmas and New Year – Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said around 3,500 troops would be on stand-by to help deal with the "any contingencies" from a no-deal outcome.  
But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said ministers still hoped to secure backing for May's agreement in a House of Commons vote delayed until next month. He added that any responsible government would intensify preparations for the "default option" of leaving the European Union without a deal on March 29 next year.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, December 18, 2018. /VCG Photo 

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay leaves 10 Downing Street in central London, December 18, 2018. /VCG Photo 

"We agreed that preparing for no deal will be an operational priority within government," Barclay said. "But our overall priority remains to secure a deal." He said departments would step up their advice to businesses on how best to prepare for the scenario, which many fear could be catastrophic for the British economy.
Businesses will be provided with a 100-plus page online preparation pack and emails will be sent to 80,000 of those most likely to be impacted over the next few days, according to Downing Street.
Finance minister Philip Hammond insisted in a statement on Tuesday that "the PM's deal is the only way to deliver on the referendum while protecting jobs, businesses and prosperity."
The same government statement said that Hammond was making arrangements to ensure that government departments "can fund measures to address civil contingencies in a no deal scenario."
The Home Office, which will get the biggest share of the "no deal" funding, will use it, among other things, "to increase Border Force capability with hundreds of new officers," it said.
May's cabinet is divided between ministers who want the government to embrace a "no deal" outcome and those who favor parliament having a final say in a series of votes on potential scenarios for Brexit.
May insisted on Monday that she was continuing to seek "assurances" from the EU over elements of her plan, although EU officials said no meetings were planned. The postponed parliamentary vote on the prime minister's deal has left members of her own Conservative party and Labour opposition politicians infuriated. 
Source(s): AFP