The UK government is working on the assumption that the European Union will not renegotiate its Brexit deal and is ramping up preparations to leave the bloc on October 31 without a deal, senior minister Michael Gove wrote in The Times on Sunday.
The new British prime minister Boris Johnson has said that the UK would leave the EU by the end of October "no ifs or buts" and plans to negotiate a new deal with the EU. But the bloc has said repeatedly that it won't reopen the deal struck with Theresa May's government last year.
Michael Gove, a Brexit supporter who Johnson tasked with ‘no deal’ preparations, wrote that the British government would undertake "intensive efforts" to secure a better deal from the EU.
"We still hope they will change their minds, but we must operate on the assumption that they will not ... No deal is now a very real prospect and we must make sure that we are ready," Gove wrote.
"Planning for no-deal is now this government’s no. 1 priority," he said, adding that "every penny needed" for no-deal preparations would be made available.
Ministers are preparing for a no-deal emergency budget in the week of October 7, the newspaper added.
Also writing in a Sunday newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph, the new British finance minister Sajid Javid said that no-deal preparations will be stepped up in his department, the Treasury.
"In my first day in office (...) I tasked officials to urgently identify where more money needs to be invested to get Britain fully ready to leave on October 31 – deal or no deal. And next week I will be announcing significant extra funding to do just that," he wrote.
Javid added that the new funding would include 500 new Border Force officers.
Johnson has said that the Irish backstop must be removed from any Brexit deal.
"You can’t just reheat the dish that’s been sent back and expect that will make it more palatable," Gove wrote. "We need a new approach and a different relationship. Critically, we need to abolish the backstop."
British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday that the Labour party would do everything it could to prevent the country leaving the EU without a deal.