Johnson says no-deal Brexit planning will go 'further and faster' as he completes cabinet

Written by Alain Tolhurst and Richard Johnstone on 26 July 2019 in News
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Series of ministerial appointments made yesterday, while rumoured spad appointments on the way

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Boris Johnson has given more details of his plans to “mobilise the civil service to deliver” a no-deal Brexit if this is necessary at the end of October.

In his first statement as prime minister yesterday, Johnson said that the government would make preparing for no-deal Brexit a “top priority”, led by freshly-appointed Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove in the Cabinet Office.

The Department for Exiting the European Union was meanwhile told to focus on EU negotiations in Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle.


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A spokesperson for Johnson has now confirmed that preparations would be ramped up across the board in the run-up to 31 October, and that Gove had been charged with "turbo-boosting those preparations" to "go further and faster to build upon" work done in the run-up to Britain's original Brexit date of 29 March.

It will involve "big public communications campaign", Johnson's spokesperson said, adding: “The PM has said he wants to send a very clear message to the country we need to be ready for the opportunities provided by Brexit - but also the consequences of leaving without a deal.”

So far £4.2bn had been allocated to the preparations by former chancellor Philip Hammond, but Gove will have access to further funds, the spokesperson said.

"The PM instructed the chancellor to make sure all funds necessary are available," he said. "And the chancellor has agreed to that."

Brexit secretary Steve Barclay – who has retained the seat he held in May’s final cabinet – will act as lead ministerial negotiator, in a role described by No.10 as [chief EU negotiator] "Michel Barnier’s counterpart”.

But the spokesperson confirmed Johnson would be leading talks with the EU as he seeks to reach a new withdrawal agreement, with the PM "obviously the chief negotiator".

The instruction to civil servants comes as Johnson completes the formation of his cabinet.

Oliver Dowden has been promoted to paymaster general in the Cabinet Office and will be able to attend cabinet. The role is a higher-level post than Dowden’s previous role as minister for implementation in the central department, where he was responsible for civil service pay and conditions. Full details of his ministerial responsibilities have not yet been confirmed.

Other Cabinet Office appointments include long time Johnson ally Jake Berry, who has been appointed Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse. Berry held the role under former prime minister Theresa May, but it will now be a joint post between the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Cabinet Office.

High-profile ministerial appointments also include former housing minister Kit Malthouse as policing minister in the Home Office, where he will lead the recruitment of an extra 20,000 police officers pledged by Johnson.

Details of possible special adviser appointments are also being revealed. The former chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign, Matthew Elliott, is expected to join the Treasury as Sajid Javid’s special adviser. Elliot was chief executive of the right-wing think thank the Taxpayers’ Alliance before heading up the Brexit campaign with new No.10 adviser Dominic Cummings.

It has also been reported that another Taxpayers’ Alliance figure is also set to join government, with Chloe Westley, the current campaign manager at the controversial group, set to become Boris Johnson’s new digital adviser.

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Alain Tolhurst and Richard Johnstone
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Alain Tolhurst is the chief reporter at CSW's sister site PoliticsHome.

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

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