Now France starts planning for no deal Brexit: Paris launches huge customs and border agent recruitment drive in £44m plan with just 71 days to go
- France activated its no deal plans today following MPs vote on the Brexit deal
- Paris is ploughing £44million into ports and airports for contingency plans
- Move comes as Michel Barnier warns MPs have created a ‘climate of mistrust’
France activated its no deal Brexit contingency plans today in response to MPs crushing Theresa May’s deal.
French PM Edouard Philippe said events in London meant Britain crashing out in 71 days was now ‘less and less unlikely’.
Officials will spend £40million (50mn euros) adding contingency measures to ports and airports – likely to take account of British travellers soon having to go through full immigration controls and goods having to undergo customs checks.
The move comes as EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned the actions of MPs had created a climate of mistrust as the clock ticked down to exit day.
French PM Edouard Philippe (pictured in Paris today) said events in London meant Britain crashing out in 71 days was now ‘less and less unlikely’
French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured on Tuesday) has been among leading voices against compromise in the Brexit talks
Speaking after a ministerial meeting called to discuss the British parliament’s rejection of the divorce deal negotiated with the EU, Mr Philippe said: ‘I have taken the decision to activate the plan for a no-deal Brexit or hard Brexit as it is sometimes called.’
He added: ‘What’s certain is that the scenario of a no-deal Brexit is less and less unlikely.
‘That’s why… I have decided to trigger the plan for a no-deal Brexit.’
Mrs May’s deal was smashed in the biggest ever defeat in Parliament on Tuesday night as MPs rejected almost two years of talks by a 230-vote margin.
Mr Barnier, who is in Portugal for talks today, said: ‘If there is no deal there will be contingency measures.
‘But that will be very difficult and will not be done in a climate of confidence. The best guarantee is reaching an agreement.’
Barnier repeated comments that it is now up to Britain to decide how to proceed, adding: ‘Brexit is a situation where everyone loses.’
Michel Barnier, who is in Portugal for talks today (pictured), said: ‘If there is no deal there will be contingency measures
In the aftermath of her defeat, Mrs May is fighting to find a cross-party Brexit plan while Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of ‘playing politics’ by snubbing her offer of talks.
The Prime Minister held out an olive branch to political rivals last night after surviving a Labour bid to oust her, urging them to come to the table and help break the Parliamentary deadlock.
She has already met the Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid Cymru, and will see the sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas this morning.
Mrs May’s effective deputy David Lidington is co-ordinating the drive to hammer out a solution, while Environment Secretary and Leave campaign veteran Michael Gove is also expected to play a key role.
But Mr Corbyn caused fury by flatly rejecting the overture, insisting that he would not talk until the government rules out leaving the EU without a deal.
Mrs May has said the option must stay on the table, and has also raised questions about how much scope there is for compromise by repeating her view that the UK must leave on schedule in March and cannot be in a customs union.
Allies of the Labour leader boasted today that his tactics mean Mrs May will have to split the Tory party if she wants to get a Brexit package through the Commons.
Tory and Opposition MPs pointed out that Mr Corbyn was willing to ‘sit down with terrorists’ without any preconditions – insisting his only aim was to seize power whatever the consequences for the country.
Tony Blair also waded in this morning by saying ‘of course’ Mr Corbyn should accept the premier’s invitation at a ‘moment of crisis’.
In a Downing Street speech last night, Theresa May held out an olive branch to political rivals last night after surviving a Labour bid to oust her