No-deal Brexit planning gets a $2.6 billion boost

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 1, 2019 - Duration: 02:10s

No-deal Brexit planning gets a $2.6 billion boost

Britain is ramping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit by preparing to spend an extra $2.6 billion to make sure the country is ready to leave the European Union with or without a divorce deal at the end of October.

Anna Bevan reports.

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No-deal Brexit planning gets a $2.6 billion boost

2.6 billion dollars - That's the amount the British government has pledged in additional funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

It's double the amount spent on preparations earlier this year.

And will fund a nationwide advertising campaign, help Britons living abroad, ensure the supply of medicine and improve infrastructure around ports.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to leave the EU with or without an agreement on October 31st.

But it all rests on the controversial Irish border backstop.

Johnson wants it scrapped.

He was in Northern Ireland this week to discuss power-sharing in the province, and of course Brexit.

The problem for Brexiteers is that the backstop keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU until another way of avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland can be found.

It's also a no-go for Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Johnson's Conservatives in parliament.

It fears the backstop would put the province under different rules, dividing it from the rest of the UK.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY LEADER, ARLENE FOSTER, SAYING: "What we want to see is a sensible way forward that recognizes that the whole of the United Kingdom are leaving the European Union.

The Republic of Ireland are staying in the single market, and therefore we have to find a way of dealing with that." But Ireland, backed by the EU, fears if there's no customs union, there'll be customs checks -- a physical border.

And that could jeopardize the 1998 Good Friday agreement that ended three decades of violence.

Irish Nationalist Sinn Fein said Wednesday (31 July), after meeting Johnson, it was dead-set against a no-deal Brexit.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SINN FEIN LEADER MARY LOU MCDONALD, SAYING: "We've challenged him very strongly on that policy.

We've set out very clearly that this would be catastrophic for the Irish economy, for Irish livelihoods, for our society, for our politics and for our peace accord." Despite their disagreement on the backstop, Johnson still says he wants a deal with Brussels.

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