'Waste of money' claim
Javid orders £2.1bn spending on No Deal Brexit preparation
Money will be spent to ensure goods are traded
A further £2.1 billion has been set aside for No Deal Brexit planning, prompting claims that taxpayers money is being wasted.
Chancellor Sajid Javid said the cash had been found to ensure “vital” areas of the economy were prepared to handle the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October.
The extra funding has been announced as Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has called for Scotch whisky and Scottish salmon to have the same protections after Brexit even if the UK leaves without a deal.
In a letter to his UK Government counterpart Theresa Villiers, Mr Ewing called for key Scottish food and drink products to keep their protected status under European rules.
The Scottish Government said it is worried about guidance from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which it claims contradicts UK Government assurances about GIs.
Under Mr Javid’s extra spending, more than £1bn is being made available immediately in order to recruit 500 border force officers, ensure the availability of vital medicines and launch an advertising blitz to help businesses and individuals get ready for an increasingly likely hard Brexit.
Mr Javid said: “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. This additional £2.1 billion will ensure we are ready to leave on 31 October – deal or no deal.”
The Treasury will allocate £434m ensuring an adequate stockpile of vital medicines will be available, with funds being spent on increased freight capacity and storage
A further £344m will be spent preparing the UK’s border and customs arrangements, including the recruitment of additional border officials, while £108m will be used to launch a “national programme of business readiness” to prepare exporters for a new trading enviroment outside of the EU.
The government will spend £138m on a new “information campaign” to prepare the public.
Whitehall departments and the devolved administrations will also be able to bid for an additional £1bn if they need it, and any request for cash from the Scottish government will be keenly monitored.
John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said: “This is an appalling waste of tax-payers’ 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.
“Labour is a party for the whole of the UK, so we’ll do all we can to block a No Deal, crash-out Brexit – and we’ll deliver a transformative economic policy that delivers for the many, not the few.”
Anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain branded the plans a “colossal waste of money”.
The group’s CEO, Naomi Smith, said: “We know a no-deal Brexit will mean shortages of foods and medicines, and we know it’ll cost the country a fortune. Now the new Chancellor want to throw more billions at the problem his government is responsible for creating.
“Wasting money like this when we have so many other priorities is exactly why the country has turned against Brexit. We need to stop fixating on it so that we can fix the country.”
The group also leapt on a new report from business advisory firm EY warning that a No Deal Brexit could have ‘immediate, real and adverse impacts’ on trade in Scotland.
The report also warned skills shortages could increase in part due to a fall in migrant workers coming to Scotland, with this ‘connected to the challenges created by Brexit’.
Ms Smith, said: “This report spells out the clear economic damage that a hard Brexit would cause for trade in Scotland. This is the reality of Boris Johnson’s plan to crash out of the EU without a deal, putting jobs and growth at risk. Instead of jeopardising people’s livelihoods, the Prime Minister should give people the chance to say they want to change tack and stay in the EU.”