Cabinet Spars Over No-Deal as Plans Stepped Up: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- Theresa May’s Cabinet agreed to step up plans for a no-deal Brexit as the prime minister tries to convince members of Parliament to back her divorce agreement.

Key Developments:

* Government tells businesses to prepare for the worst
* EU rules out mini-deals to help cushion the blow
* Defense Secretary says 3,500 troops ready for no-deal
* Cabinet ministers spar over no-deal: one accuses Brexiteers of peddling "unicorns"

Cabinet Spars Over No-Deal (2 p.m.)

The three-hour Cabinet meeting to debate no-deal Brexit prompted colorful debate, according to people familiar with the situation.

Justice Secretary David Gauke used unusually strong language to tell Brexiteer colleagues to stop trying sell the idea that a "managed no-deal" was an option. He said ministers’ job was "not to propagate unicorns but to slay them," according to a person familiar with the meeting.

One of the colleagues he was aiming at had a new proposal at the meeting: the minister said the U.K. should try to buy a transition period from the EU, as a way of getting the extra breathing space without accepting the less attractive parts of the deal, according to another person.

The EU has always said that without a divorce deal, there can be no transition.

Amber Rudd, who campaigned for Remain, urged colleagues to work across party lines to build consensus, according to another person familiar with the situation. But there was pushback against an idea that’s been floated in the past week of getting Parliament to vote on various Brexit options to find a way forward, according to one of the people.

Cabinet Agrees to Implement No-Deal Plans in Full (1:40 p.m.)

The Cabinet, which met for three hours, agreed to implement its no-deal plans "in full," with just three months to go until Brexit day, according to May’s spokesman James Slack.

There will be:

  • More information for citizens in coming weeks
  • Tax office HMRC will issue guidance pack to businesses this week to enable preparation for border changes
  • Money released for no-deal preparations "shortly." Of the 4 billion pounds that’s been set aside, 2 billion pounds will be released

The Cabinet also agreed that getting May’s deal passed was the priority. If there is no deal, legislation will be required, Slack says. That’s a chance for Parliament -- where the majority wants to avoid the cliff-edge scenario -- to block it.

Government ramps up no-deal Brexit planning (1:23 p.m.)

The Cabinet agreed to increase its planning for a no-deal Brexit with only three months to go before the U.K. leaves the bloc. The government is also telling businesses to do the same, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay tells Sky News.

However, the priority remains to get May’s deal through Parliament, he said.


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