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Brexit: UK “ready” for “no deal”

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY/AFP) — Despite alarming forecasts by his government, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised on Thursday that his country would be “ready” in case of Brexit without an agreement, an increasingly likely scenario according to the EU.

“We have no reason to be optimistic” about the chances of reaching a divorce agreement before the EU summit of 17 and 18 October, warned the EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, in his statement to the leaders of the political groups of the European Parliament.

EU and UK still fail to agree on how to avoid the reestablishment of a physical border between EU Member State Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland after Brexit.

London rejects the solution known as the “safety net” (or “backstop”), unavoidable in the eyes of Brussels for lack of credible alternative. It provides that the United Kingdom as a whole remains in a “single customs territory” with the EU if a better solution is not found after a transitional period.

– Shortages –

“We will see in the coming weeks if the British are able to make concrete proposals in writing, which are legally operational,” Barnier said.

According to a British spokesman, “the United Kingdom has presented ideas in the fields of borders and manufactured goods” during talks in Brussels on Wednesday. These will continue on Friday.

Boris Johnson pledged to leave his country “whatever the cost” of the EU on October 31, despite a law of the British Parliament forcing him to seek a new postponement in the absence of agreement on October 19.

He assured that his country would be “ready”, minimizing the scope of an official file presenting, according to Downing Street, “the worst case scenario” of the economic and social impact of a “no deal”.

The document, published at the express request of Parliament and entitled “Operation Yellowhammer” (operation Yellowhammer, the name of a sparrow), believes that a lack of agreement could cause disorders and shortages of drugs and food .

“This is the worst scenario that civil servants need to prepare for, but I have massively accelerated our preparations since I became Prime Minister,” said the conservative leader during a visit to the Thames. “We are trying to get a” withdrawal agreement with the EU, “but if we are to go out October 31 without agreement, we will be ready: the ports, the farmers and all the industries will be ready.”

– French worries –

However, the French Minister of Public Accounts, Gerald Darmanin, said “a little worried” about the British preparations, unlike France which will be ready according to him, after a test on the transit of trucks organized Thursday at the ferry terminal of Ouistreham (northern France).

Ireland is preparing a 2020 budget based on the assumption of a “no deal”, said Wednesday his Minister of Finance, Paschal Donohoe.

“These documents confirm the serious risks of a Brexit without agreement,” worried Keir Starmer, responsible for Brexit within the Labor Party, main opposition party.

The UK authorities foresee short-term disruptions in 12 key areas, including water supply and food, health, transport and borders.

Up to 85% of British heavy goods vehicles may not be able to meet French customs control criteria, resulting in a “40 to 60% drop in the current level” of traffic. These disruptions could last three months and “have an impact on the supply of medicines and medical equipment”, as well as in fresh products.

Downing Street said it was “updating” the government document dated August 2nd.

After his decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks on Tuesday, Boris Johnson categorically denied having lied to Queen Elizabeth II about his motives, arguing that the postponement aimed to develop a new domestic policy agenda and not to impose a Brexit without agree as his opponents accuse him.

The Supreme Court in London will hear on Tuesday the arguments of the executive and its opponents on the merits or not of this controversial suspension.

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