Around 70 ‘technical notices’ – to prepare businesses and the public for the UK crashing out of the EU – will be issued in August and September.
Theresa May will publish scores of documents to prepare businesses and the public for a no-deal Brexit later in the summer – but has denied putting the army on standby.No 10 rejected a report that soldiers are being lined up to deliver food, medicines and fuel in the event of shortages, insisting: “There are no plans to involve the army in this.”
Downing Street instead revealed around 70 “technical notices” – with advice to companies and consumers if the UK crashes out of the EU with no agreement – would be issued in two sets in August and September.The prime minister’s spokesman rejected claims that plans to “drip feed” details of the preparations had been dropped because of fears it would scare voters too much. But he said: “These notices will be published in August and September. It’s making sensible preparations so that, in the event of a no-deal scenario, this would be implemented in an orderly way.”The spokesman said the UK still wanted and expected a deal, adding: “It’s about good planning and taking sensible precautions.”
The move comes after ministers lifted the lid on plans for ensuring food, medicines and blood will still be available after exit day next March.At the weekend, The Sunday Times reported that blueprints for the armed forces to assist civilian authorities had been dusted down as part of the no deal planning.Helicopters and army trucks would be used to ferry supplies to vulnerable people outside the southeast who were struggling to obtain the medicines they needed, it claimed.
And the NHS would go on a year-round “winter crisis footing”, with drugs bought from outside the EU and stockpiled in hospitals.While denying the army was being prepared, the spokesman did not dispute that Britain’s grocers have had no contact with the government about stockpiling food. Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, suggested last week that it would be an industry responsibility to ensure “adequate food supplies” – but supermarket chiefs said it showed “naivety” about how the sector operated and were in the dark.The Food and Drink Federation said it “would very much welcome a conversation with the government”, if it was being asked to take charge of the process.
Asked if the food industry had been told it would be leading the work, the spokesman said only: “There have been discussions with all sectors of business since the Brexit process began.”
He also refused to say whether the government would publish an analysis setting out the impact of a no-deal Brexit on EU countries. Steve Baker has revealed that, before he resigned as a Brexit minister over the Chequers plan, he commissioned research intended to shine a light on the negative consequences across the Channel.
Asked if this research would be published, the spokesman said: “I would urge you to wait until the no-deal reports are published before speculating on their contents.”
Ms May is on holiday in the Italian Lakes, leaving her de facto deputy David Lidington as the senior government figure in the UK. No 10 defended ministers taking holidays despite the tense state of the Brexit talks, saying: “The prime minister and other ministers are always fully engaged with their briefs.”