Pub­lic­ity blitz will ad­vise on health care and travel

Daily Express - - Front Page - By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

MIN­IS­TERS are to dra­mat­i­cally speed up prepa­ra­tions for a nodeal Brexit as the crunch Com­mons vote on Theresa May’s EU with­drawal plan looms, a se­nior front­bencher re­veals to­day.

Writ­ing ex­clu­sively for the Daily Ex­press, Brexit Sec­re­tary Stephen Bar­clay, below, says a health and travel pub­lic­ity blitz urg­ing peo­ple to be ready for a sud­den break with Brussels will be launched next week. He also warns MPs the Prime Min­is­ter’s plan is “the only work­able deal that de­liv­ers on the demo­cratic choice of the Bri­tish peo­ple”.

His forth­right mes­sage comes as West­min­ster is braced for par­lia­men­tary hos­til­ity over Brexit to re­sume next week be­fore the so-called “mean­ing­ful vote” due in the week be­gin­ning Jan­uary 14.

“We are pre­par­ing for

all sce­nar­ios,” the Cab­i­net min­is­ter says. And he adds: “As 2019 be­gins, we will ac­cel­er­ate our no-deal plan­ning fur­ther.”

Mr Bar­clay’s ar­ti­cle to­day is ex­pected to be seen as a fresh warn­ing to Brussels of the need for fur­ther con­ces­sions in the row over the “back­stop” bor­der mech­a­nism.

UK ne­go­tia­tors are un­der­stood to have qui­etly re­sumed talks with EU coun­ter­parts in re­cent days, in the push to win as­sur­ances “with le­gal force” that the back­stop will not keep us trapped in­def­i­nitely in a cus­toms union with Brussels.

Mr Bar­clay says that, with the Com­mons still bit­terly di­vided, the Govern­ment will take fur­ther steps in the com­ing days to en­sure the coun­try is pre­pared for fail­ure to reach a deal with Brussels.

He writes: “There is ob­vi­ously divi­sion in Par­lia­ment over the PM’s Brexit deal.

“It’s not a per­fect deal. But it’s the only work­able deal that de­liv­ers on the demo­cratic choice of the Bri­tish peo­ple. And it’s the best way to avoid no deal.

“As we re­turn to Par­lia­ment, MPs must con­sider the al­ter­na­tive.”

The Exit Sec­re­tary says new Govern­ment mea­sures to pre­pare for a no deal will in­clude:

New informatio­n from the Depart­ment of Trans­port, which sets out its plans for en­sur­ing that flights are not dis­rupted;

Up­dated guid­ance from the Medicines and Health­care prod­ucts Reg­u­la­tory

‘My col­leagues in Par­lia­ment must put na­tional in­ter­est first’

Agency on guar­an­tee­ing med­i­cal stan­dards;

New ad­vice from the Home Of­fice on the need for UK cit­i­zens plan­ning travel to Europe on check­ing their pass­ports are up to date;

A pub­lic informatio­n cam­paign to be launched next week on ra­dio and so­cial me­dia to raise aware­ness about the need to be ready for a nodeal Brexit.

In an ap­peal to MPs to unite be­hind Mrs May’s Brexit plans, Mr Bar­clay adds: “Peo­ple did not vote for the dis­rup­tion and un­cer­tainty of no deal.

“The pace and in­ten­sity of the work we are do­ing re­flects the po­ten­tial scale of this dis­rup­tion to peo­ple and busi­nesses across the UK.

“No deal will be far more likely if MPs re­ject the PM’s Brexit deal later this month.

“My col­leagues in Par­lia­ment must put the na­tional in­ter­est first and vote for this deal so we can get on with de­liv­er­ing Brexit and build­ing the UK’s pros­per­ous fu­ture as an out­ward-look­ing global trad­ing na­tion, out­side the EU.”

An­other Cab­i­net min­is­ter yes­ter­day in­sisted the Prime Min­is­ter could “find a way” to win the “mean­ing­ful vote” on her Brexit plans later this month.

For­eign Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt said Eu­roscep­tic Tory MPs could get “ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing we want” by back­ing her deal.

Speak­ing dur­ing a visit to Sin­ga­pore, he said: “We have a clear op­por­tu­nity to leave the EU on March 29.

“It has the vast ma­jor­ity of things that peo­ple wanted, not ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing.

“The ques­tion is, can we turn this into some­thing that gives us ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing we wanted, and I be­lieve we can.

“There will be some tough ne­go­ti­a­tions to fol­low in the years ahead but I think get­ting this clearer lan­guage on the back­stop will help to get it through Par­lia­ment.”

Mr Hunt also warned of “dev­as­tat­ing so­cial con­se­quences” if a sec­ond EU ref­er­en­dum was trig­gered. And he con­firmed the Govern­ment was con­tin­u­ing its bid to change de­tails of the back­stop within the With­drawal Agree­ment.

He said: “Theresa May has been very clear this isn’t just about words, but about text which has le­gal force.

“She has also been very straight­for­ward about this – the EU has agreed the back­stop is tem­po­rary and that’s a word they have agreed.

“So what we’re say­ing, very sim­ply, is we’re not ask­ing for any­thing new but we are ask­ing you to de­fine what tem­po­rary means so we can have con­fi­dence we’re not go­ing to be trapped in the cus­toms union for ever against the wishes of the Bri­tish peo­ple.”

But Eu­roscep­tic Tory MPs who ve­he­mently op­pose Mrs May’s plans last night re­fused to back down.

Lead­ing Brex­i­teer Ja­cob Rees-Mogg, chair­man of the Tory back­bench Euro­pean Research Group, said there was “no sign at all” that the tide of opin­ion in the Com­mons was turn­ing.

He said: “I think it was based on the false premise that when at home in our con­stituen­cies, peo­ple would tell us to back the deal.

“In­stead, as far as I can tell, the mes­sage is, stand firm against a bad deal.”

Fel­low Tory MP Sir Bill Cash said: “My new year’s res­o­lu­tion – not to vote for the PM’s With­drawal Agree­ment this Jan­uary.

“Par­lia­ment ex­ists to make our laws. This agree­ment lets the 27 EU coun­tries im­pose laws on the UK as never be­fore in our his­tory – be­hind closed doors with no tran­script and no UK at the meet­ing.”

SO THE Govern­ment is strength­en­ing prepa­ra­tions for a no-deal Brexit: good. The EU has clearly been try­ing to take ad­van­tage of us in ev­ery con­ceiv­able way on the grounds that they would not be­lieve we would re­ally leave with­out a deal: it is time to show them we would do just that. No doubt they are also aware of the fact that £39bil­lion is at stake: if there’s no deal, there’s no di­vorce pay­ment. That should fo­cus the col­lec­tive EU mind.

As for MPs, they must fi­nally un­der­stand that the Prime Min­is­ter was be­ing se­ri­ous when she said it was her deal, no deal or no Brexit. That last op­tion would be un­palat­able to the peo­ple who voted Leave all those many long months ago. Is it too much to ask that MPs fi­nally get on with the job?

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