Brexiteer says no-deal Brexit plans helped make UK ready for coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 12:41 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:41 12 March 2020

Steve Barclay, former Brexit secretary, appears on Robert Peston's programme. Photograph: ITV.

Steve Barclay, former Brexit secretary, appears on Robert Peston's programme. Photograph: ITV.

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A minister has claimed that no-deal Brexit preparations have made the UK ready for the coronavirus pandemic.

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Explaining whether the NHS would be ready for the coronavirus, former Brexit secretary Steve Barclay told ITV's Peston that 'there is a huge amount of work' going into the NHS to make it ready for the peak of the disease.

He went on to explain that no-deal Brexit planning meant the UK was more prepared.

He said: 'Actually a huge amount of work went in as part of our planning for Brexit - the no-deal Brexit planning contingency'.

But presenter Robert Peston pointed out that it went further than planning for no-deal Brexit went - and in particular for the NHS would mean temporary hospitals, and more beds and wards.

'These are important issues,' said Barclay, currently chief secretary to the Treasury, as he insisted 'work is going on' within government and the health service to 'look at how we address this'.

The comment from Barclay comparing no-deal Brexit to a global pandemic did not assure viewers.

'Hang on, I thought a no deal Brexit was not going to be a problem?' tweeted user @DaveMightKnow. 'Now he's saying it's good preparation for a global pandemic?'

'Implication being that Brexit is as toxic as Coronavirus. I suppose we should feel relieved...' said Padraic Murray.

'So there are parallels between a No-Deal Brexit and a global pandemic?' asked Brian Tutt. 'Don't remember that on the side of the bus...'

'So no deal Brexit has similarities to a global pandemic- and yet this is our default negotiation position...' posted @radders2000.

'So dealing with a no deal Brexit would have been like dealing with a global pandemic?' posted James Anderson. 'And, hey, we may yet have to deal with it come year end, just after we've got over the actual pandemic. Bloody marvellous.'

'So is he saying that Brexit would lead to mass panic buying, closing of schools, and a forthcoming economic crisis?' enquired Chris Johnston.

'I wonder how many #SeabourneFreights will be hidden in the Covid19 spending?' joked Karam Bales.
'You mean this is the sunlit uplands?' asked another.

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