LONDON (Reuters) - Britain sought on Tuesday to ease concerns about leaving the European Union without a deal, publishing a raft of contingency plans which included a new advice service to help suppliers of medical goods.
With just 23 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the bloc, the future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain and both London and Brussels are positioning themselves to avoid blame for a delay or a disorderly no-deal Brexit.
Britain’s parliament, where a majority of lawmakers have tried to prevent a no-deal Brexit, has demanded an update on the government’s efforts to try to mitigate the disruption that leaving without a deal is expected to cause.
The government published an update to those plans on Tuesday in a 155-page document entitled “No-Deal Readiness Report” which covered steps taken on key issues like borders, citizens’ rights, energy, industry and Northern Ireland.
“At every point, the government will be candid about the challenges ahead as well as clear-eyed about the opportunities,” said Michael Gove, the minister in charge of preparations.
“Together, government, businesses and citizens can work to get ready for Brexit – and look forward to the future with confidence.”
Previously leaked documents have highlighted the potential for civil unrest, and food, fuel and medicine shortages in the event of no-deal - although the government at the time said those represented an outdated worst-case scenario, which they have tried to address.
Tuesday’s document, which largely covered previously announced contingency measures and advice to businesses and consumers, set out the establishment of a new “Support Unit” to help suppliers of medical goods prepare.
“This will help to ensure that companies have the necessary customs paperwork in place for border arrangements ahead of Brexit on 31 October, if we leave without a deal,” the plans said.
“These teams of specialists will be able to provide traders operating in the health and social care sector with up-to-date advice and practical guidance on the steps they need to take to prepare.”
Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan, editing by Stephen Addison