Morning Briefing: Government's £2.1 billion No Deal pledge is a drop in the ocean compared to the real cost
Voters go to the polls in Brecon and Radnorshire in the first test for prime minister Boris Johnson since he became prime minister eight days ago. The poll comes after a week of bull and bluster with multiple threats of a destructive No Deal, culminating in plans for a £138m propaganda campaign in favour of No Deal and another £2 billion to stem some of the flood of chaos and shortages it will bring.
The Liberal Democrats are favourites, with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party backing them and a People’s Vote, while the Conservative candidate is convicted expenses fraudster Chris Davies.
The result is important as the Conservative government’s majority (with DUP backing) is wafer-thin and every vote in the House could be critical when MPs return after the summer recess.
Government's £2.1 billion No Deal pledge is a drop in the ocean compared to the real cost
Every day the bad news about No Deal gets bigger and louder and even today's announcement that taxpayers are going to have to fork out another £2.1 billion to stem the rising tide of disaster is not the worst news about No Deal.
Despite having no democratic support or legitimacy for their No Deal project, the Government are pressing on with a plan that will cause chaos at the ports, threaten stability in Northern Ireland and could leave us short of food, medicines and other vital supplies.
Today's spending announcement - one of the biggest items on the ministerial shopping list is propaganda - will be like a drop in the ocean, as even 500 extra border officials will not be enough to stop the damage.
It doubles the amount already set aside to use in the coming three months, with Labour branding the spending "all for the sake of Boris Johnson’s drive towards a totally avoidable No Deal.” Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said they could have ruled out No Deal and spent the money on schools, hospitals and people.
Owen Smith MP commented: “It is an absolute outrage that, without any democratic consent whatsoever, Boris Johnson thinks he can set our country on such a dangerous and reckless course, at enormous expense to the public."
Under the plans, announced by chancellor Sajid Javid, £344m will be spent preparing the UK's border and customs arrangements, including the recruitment of additional border officials; £434m will be spent to stockpile vital medicines, with funds being spent on increased freight capacity and storage.
Meanwhile, a £108m pot will be used to launch a "national programme of business readiness" to prepare exporters for a new trading environment outside of the EU - on top of the £138m to be blown on a propaganda campaign for a No Deal policy that the prime minister disingenuously claims he doesn't want.
The Mirror said this morning that it brings government spending on Brexit preparations to £6.3bn and, although The Times reports that some of the money is being reallocated, it is merely the tip of the iceberg of the true cost of No Deal.
Nobody voted for a catastrophic No Deal – yet we now have a government hellbent on using our money in order to threaten and bully their way to a destructive Brexit on October 31.
That Johnson needs to spend a staggering £138m on a propaganda campaign to support this madness is deeply telling. He is endorsing an expensive state-funded propaganda machine because he knows the public haven't bought into it. Only a People's Vote can resolve this political crisis.
People going hungry is the real cost of No Deal
The huge cost comes as the government has been told it must as a “matter of urgency” organise cash grants to stop children and vulnerable people going hungry following a no-deal Brexit.
Sustain, an alliance of charities has written to Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, and Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal planning, to warn that donations from the public could “dry up” if food prices spike after No Deal.
“We need to be clear with you that food banks and frontline charities are in no position to respond to such an eventuality, having neither the money nor storage to stockpile food, often being run by volunteers, and many being already over-stretched meeting current need,” the letter, seen by HuffPost UK yesterday said.
The Telegraph reported that turkey twizzlers could be back on school dinners’ menus after Brexit as official government advice warned cooks “to adapt menus to allow for product substitution”.
Meanwhile the Law Society said that £3.5 billion and 10,000 jobs could disappear from the legal services sector if there is No Deal as lawyers would be unable to have unfettered access to European markets.
And Ford’s automotive president Joseph Hinrichs told the BBC this morning that No Deal was becoming much more likely with a bigger risk on the company’s investment in the UK.
A £2.1 billion government spend on No Deal preparation is the tip of the iceberg of the true cost to the UK economy - and UK people - of a cliff-edge Brexit.
Chip in to combat Government No Deal propaganda
People's Vote campaigner Lord Heseltine is calling on People's Vote supporters to fight back over the Government's plans to spend £138 million on No Deal propaganda. He urged supporters to chip in to help us battle against the state-funded propaganda machine. We're hugely grateful to everyone who has chipped in. If you haven't, but would like to, please click the button below.
It's clear that Brexit must be put to the people. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the People's Vote campaign. Sign up to volunteer today.
Quote of the Day
“A lot of the problems created by no-deal will be supply-side issues — things getting stuck in ports or customs — and stoking up the economy when you have already got supply constraints is probably the last thing you want to do.”
Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson warns the government that an early Budget before anyone knows what is going to happen with Brexit would be "an extraordinarily bad idea".
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