Britain Puts Army Reserves on Standby for Chaotic Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- Theresa May dialed up her rhetoric on the perils of a no-deal Brexit, putting Army reservists on standby.

While the premier has long said it’s sensible to prepare for the prospect of crashing out of the bloc without a deal, she’s been accused of using contingency planning as a way of frightening members of Parliament into backing her Brexit plan as the only alternative to chaos.

With opposition lawmakers saying she’s trying to blackmail them, the timing of the latest announcement is unfortunate. May started talks on Wednesday with rival parties in an attempt to find a compromise Brexit plan that can win Parliament’s backing. The opposition is united in wanting May to rule out the no-deal option and stop spending government money preparing for it.

Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wouldn’t take part in talks unless she does so. Other parties have agreed to talk to May but they also want her to take the chaos option off the table.

“No sane person” would support the risks associated with a no-deal Brexit, the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said. Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable called on May to say “it is a ludicrous, damaging proposition.”

Instead, the government ratcheted up its plans, with Defence Minister Mark Lancaster issuing a statement putting reservists on standby to mitigate the impact a no-deal Brexit “might have on the welfare, health and security of U.K. citizens and economic stability of the U.K.”

The order takes effect from Feb. 10 and lasts a year.

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