London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government will mark the start of September with a publicity blitz aimed at preparing the public for a no-deal Brexit.
Whereas previous information campaigns were aimed at businesses — with long technical briefings on how different sectors should prepare for the possibility that the UK leaves the European Union without a deal — the new one will be more user-friendly, said a government official who asked not to be identified.
At the same time, briefings for Parliament will be stepped up, with Cabinet minister Michael Gove appearing weekly in the House of Commons to give updates on the status of planning.
The official said that government planners had been warned that small businesses in particular weren’t ready for a no-deal exit. The Department for Transport is taking particular responsibility for the issue, with many hauliers facing big increases in the amount of paperwork they will have to handle as they move goods into and out of the UK.
Johnson on Monday insisted the country would be ready for a no-deal Brexit.
“There may well be bumps in the road but we will be ready to come out on October 31, deal or no deal,” he told Sky News.
Johnson travels to Berlin and Paris this week to discuss Brexit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. EU leaders were “showing a little bit of reluctance” to change their position, he said, but he was “confident” they’ll eventually shift and give him a deal.
Johnson’s comments come after the Sunday Times newspaper reported a leaked government report warning of a three-month “meltdown” at ports, along with shortages of food and medicine. Gove said on Sunday this was out-of-date information based on “worst-case planning.”
The publicity campaign will direct people to the government’s website to find out what preparations they need to make and the site is being been readied for a big increase in traffic, the official said.
EU citizens living in Britain are being urged to apply for settled status ahead of the Brexit deadline. But despite the government warning that free movement from the bloc will end on October 31, the official said most changes are likely to be symbolic in the short term.
Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn renewed his pledge to call a no-confidence vote in the government and if successful, form a temporary administration to hold an election. Labour, he said in a speech in Corby, central England, would promise to hold a second referendum on leaving the EU because opinions have hardened in the past three years.
“No outcome will now have legitimacy without the people’s endorsement,” Corbyn said. Labour will “give voters the final say with credible options on both sides including the option to remain.”