No preparations for no-deal Brexit

Mark Carney: finger on the QE trigger

The government’s preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit in March 2019 have “largely ground to a halt”, with officials privately conceding that preparations for a “cliff edge” Brexit next March are nowhere near the level they need to be, says James Blitz and George Parker in the Financial Times.

This has led to fears that it will be “almost impossible” for Theresa May to walk out of negotiations – even if she wants to – in the next ten months. Some backers of a “hard Brexit” claim that the prime minister and top civil servants have done this deliberately – they want to make sure that walking out “is no longer a realistic option”.

Certainly, “had the government been serious about leaving the single market and the customs union”, then planning should have started before Article 50 was triggered, says Dominic Cummings in The Spectator. What Whitehall has really been preparing for is the continuation of EU law and “the jurisdiction of the ECJ”.

Nonsense, counters David Smith in The Sunday Times. Fear of a cliff-edge Brexit is very much on the minds of officials. Bank of England boss Mark Carney has stress-tested Britain’s banks for such an eventuality. He’s also made it clear that, if Britain leaves without a deal, the Bank “would reach for its August 2016 playbook, cutting rates and unleashing another round of quantitative easing”.

The Treasury meanwhile has been “criticised by some for not authorising significant extra spending to prepare the country for a no-deal outcome”, but it has taken the sensible view that “there is little that can be practically done to smooth a disruptive Brexit”.

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