More than £2 billion has been set aside to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, which has been branded a ‘appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash’.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid announced that the funding includes £1.1 billion for departments and the devolved administrations to spend immediately, with a further £1 billion in reserve.
Javid said the money will ensure the UK is ready to leave the European Union “deal or no deal”.
However, Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, called the funds an “appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash”.
McDonnell added: “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.”
– £344 million for border and customs operations
– £434 million to ensure vital medicines are available
– £108 million to support businesses
– £138 million for a public information campaign, information for Britons living abroad and support for areas including Northern Ireland
Measures include 500 new Border Force officers, support for passport processing, improved infrastructure at ports and extra cash for Operation Brock – the plan to cope with traffic chaos in Kent.
Supplies of medicines could be hit by disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit, so mitigation plans include increased freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling.
In total the Treasury has made £6.3 billion available to prepare for Brexit including £4.2 billion this financial year alone.
Owen Smith MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said it was money being spent on “something nobody voted for.”
“More and more of our money is now to be spent on something nobody voted for, that would make us all poorer, would damage the fight against terrorism and would threaten peace and stability in Northern Ireland.
“It is an absolute outrage that, without any democratic consent whatsoever, Boris Johnson thinks he can set our country on such a dangerous and reckless course, at enormous expense to the public.
“The only fair and democratic way forward is to give the people the final say. Now that what is being proposed is a million miles away from anything Boris Johnson and his cabinet colleagues sold to the public in 2016 it is absolutely essential we have a People’s Vote on whatever comes out of the Brexit crisis.”
Best for Britain 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 wants to throw billions more 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.”