The British government says it is making preparations for a no-deal Brexit by earmarking an extra 2.1 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) to stockpile medicines, hire more border officials and fund one of the biggest peacetime advertising campaigns.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who took power last week had pledged to leave the European trading bloc without an agreement in three months unless the European Union agrees to renegotiate the deal agreed by his predecessor, Theresa May.
In his first major policy announcement, the country’s new Finance Minister, Sajid Javid said the plan will allow the government to increase training for customs officials, hire more staff to deal with an expected increase in passport applications as well as improve infrastructure around ports.
“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,” Javid said.
The Finance Ministry said the additional fund would accelerate the no-deal preparations, provide an immediate cash boost of 1.1 billion pounds and make a further 1 billion pounds available for government departments and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
This means that the British government has in total allocated 6.3 billion pounds to prepare for a no-deal exit, including 4.2 billion pounds of funding for this financial year.
The ministry said, among other initiatives, 434 million pounds will be spent to ensure vital supplies of medicines and medical products can be brought into the country, including hiring additional freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling.
To get people and businesses ready for a no-deal Brexit, 138 million pounds will be spent on one of the biggest peacetime advertising campaigns and provide extra consular support for citizens living overseas.
A total of 344 million pounds will be spent on new border and customs operations, including hiring an extra 500 border force officers and doubling the support for customs agents to help companies fill in customs declarations.
Javid’s predecessor, Philip Hammond, who opposed leaving the EU without a divorce deal was accused by Brexit supporters of failing to spend enough money to get Britain ready for a no-deal Brexit, thus undermining its negotiating position with Brussels.
Investors say that a no-deal Brexit would send shock waves through the world economy, tip Britain into a recession, roil financial markets and weaken London’s position as the pre-eminent international financial center.
However, Brexit advocates argue that while there would be some short-term difficulties, the disruption of a no-deal Brexit has been overplayed and that in the long-term, the UK would thrive if it left the EU.