Boris Johnson is preparing a No Deal information blitz to make sure Britain is ready to leave the EU – with or without an agreement – on October 31.
The new Prime Minister is planning to show Brussels he is serious about taking Britain out of the bloc without a deal by ramping up preparations.
The information push will see an everything-you-need-to-know leaflet sent to 27 million households and the broadcast of TV ads as part of a campaign which is expected to cost £10 million.
Mr Johnson is adamant that he will deliver Brexit by the current Halloween deadline and has set up a six-strong ‘war cabinet’ tasked with pushing through the UK’s divorce ‘by any means necessary’.
The group is made up exclusively of senior Brexit-backing ministers: Mr Johnson, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, Stephen Barclay and Geoffrey Cox.
It is an attempt by Mr Johnson to streamline the Brexit decision-making process and to stop Whitehall bureaucracy slowing down preparations.
Mr Gove revealed today that the government is now working on the ‘assumption’ that there will be a No Deal Brexit because ministers believe the EU will not give in to Mr Johnson’s demands to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s divorce.
As a result, the government is increasing its spending on No Deal contingency planning with Mr Javid expected to this week announce additional funding of at least £1 billion.
Meanwhile, a new poll showed Mr Johnson’s elevation to PM had delivered a ten-point ‘Boris bounce’ for the Conservative Party with the Tories now five points ahead of Labour.
Team Johnson believes the UK must fully commit to No Deal if it is to convince the EU that it is ready to go ahead with a chaotic split at the end of October.
In a move similar to Tony Blair’s ‘sofa government’, Boris Johnson will make all key decisions over Brexit with a team of just six senior ministers – all of whom are Brexiteers
Michael Gove, who has been tasked by Mr Johnson to boost preparations for a No Deal Brexit, has said that the government is working on the ‘assumption’ that the European Union will not strike a new agreement
A new Deltapoll revealed Mr Johnson has delivered a 10 point boost to the Tories since becoming PM
Mr Johnson’s planned information blitz is central to those plans with the new PM hoping the leaflets and TV ads will assuage fears of voters and make clear that Britain can handle leaving the EU without agreeing terms.
The leaflet is expected to set out the ‘key facts’ relating to a No Deal Brexit and will show there is ‘nothing to fear’ from such a departure.
It will detail advice on travel arrangements, medicine and food supplies, and warn against stockpiling, according to The Sun.
There will also be a No Deal website launched where people will be able to go to answer any questions they have about how they could be affected.
Mr Johnson’s Brexit ‘war cabinet’ will meet for the first time tomorrow while Mr Gove, the minister responsible for contingency planning, has reportedly been told to hold daily progress meetings with civil servants and advisers.
His stripped-back Brexit-planning group stands in stark contrast to his predecessor Theresa May’s approach
For much of her three years it is claimed that the Brexit Department, from which both David Davis and Dominic Raab resigned, was sidelined from negotiations.
And while several departments attempted to make No Deal contingencies, Philip Hammond’s Treasury was resistant to helping the cause.
Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s top aide, apparently told special advisers on Friday that the new PM had said Brexit must be delivered ‘by any means necessary’ by Halloween.
The use of the phrase has reignited fears that Mr Johnson could try to force through a No Deal Brexit against the wishes of the House of Commons.
What is the Irish backstop and why is it so divisive?
The so-called Irish border backstop is one of the most controversial parts of the existing Brexit deal. This is what it means:
What is the backstop?
The backstop was invented to meet promises to keep open the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland even if there is no comprehensive UK-EU trade deal.
The divorce deal says it will kick in automatically at the end of the Brexit transition period if that deal is not in place.
It effectively keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland in both the customs union and single market.
This means many EU laws will keep being imposed on the UK, restricting its ability to do its own trade deals. It also means regulatory checks on some goods crossing the Irish Sea.
Why have Ireland and the EU demanded it?
Because the UK is leaving the customs union and single market, the EU said it needed guarantees that people and goods circulating inside its border – in this case in Ireland – met its rules.
This is covered by the Brexit transition, which effectively maintains the status quo, and can in theory be done in the comprehensive EU-UK trade deal.
But the EU said there had to be a backstop to cover what happens in any gap between the transition and final deal.
Why do critics hate it?
Because Britain cannot decide when to leave the backstop.
Getting out – even if there is a trade deal – can only happen if both sides agree and Brexiteers fear the EU will unreasonably demand the backstop continues so EU law continues to apply in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland MPs also hate the regulatory border in the Irish Sea, insisting it unreasonably carves up the United Kingdom.
Mr Johnson is seeking to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU but Brussels has insisted it will not bow to his demand for the Irish border backstop to be deleted.
Mr Johnson has said he will not sign up to an agreement that includes the border protocol, putting the two sides on a collision course.
Many in Brussels had been sceptical about whether the new PM is serious about his ‘do or die’ Brexit promise.
But the strong rhetoric from him and his senior allies since he won the keys to 10 Downing Street last week has spooked the EU that he could go through with it.
Mr Gove said today that No Deal was now the working ‘assumption’ of the UK government.
Writing in The Sunday Times, he said: ‘We still hope they will change their minds, but we must operate on the assumption that they will not.
‘The prime minister has been crystal clear that means we must prepare to leave the EU without a deal on October 31, and I fully support this approach.’
Mr Gove said ‘No Deal is now a very real prospect’.
Meanwhile, Mr Javid is this week expected to announce increased funding for No Deal preparations.
He told The Sunday Telegraph ‘significant extra funding’ would be made available to make sure the UK is ‘fully ready to leave’ with insiders expecting an anouncement worth more than £1 billion.
Mr Johnson’s move into Downing Street has led to a surge in support for the Conservatives, an exclusive Mail on Sunday poll has found.
Replacing Mrs May with Mr Johnson has given the Tories a ten-point ‘Boris bounce’ and a five-point lead over Labour.
But the pressure on Mr Johnson to call a snap general election during his ‘honeymoon’ period will be increased by the survey’s finding that if Labour ditches Jeremy Corbyn as leader, the Tories would trail by six points.
The Deltapoll survey puts the Tories on 30 per cent, up from 20 per cent in the firm’s poll for this newspaper at the start of the summer – turning a six-point lead for Mr Corbyn over Mrs May into a five-point advantage for Mr Johnson.
The rise corresponds to a ten-point fall for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, whose support for a No-Deal Brexit has been matched by Mr Johnson.
The ‘bounce’ is likely to lead to pressure for a Tory-Brexit Party pact. If Mr Farage’s remaining supporters switched to the Conservatives, the party would be polling above 40 per cent – enough for a healthy Commons majority.
But the poll paints a more pessimistic view of Mr Johnson’s electoral prospects if Mr Corbyn is toppled: in that case, Labour would enjoy a six-point lead.
A handful of other polls also showed the same thing as Mr Johnson started to restore support for his party.
The poll boost and Mr Johnson’s decision to step up No Deal preparations came as it emerged that he faces a growing threat from Remain-backing MPs determined to stop a No Deal split.
Philip Hammond and Sir Keir Starmer held secret face-to-face talks immediately before Mr Johnson became prime minister to discuss how best to thwart No Deal, according to The Observer.
Mr Hammond, a vocal opponent of a disorderly split from the EU, resigned as chancellor on Wednesday afternoon in order to deny Mr Johnson the chance to sack him.
Dominic Cummings (right, next to Boris Johnson and Sir Mark Sedwill) plans to turn the Conservative Party conference at the end of September into a Brexit rally
Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings (right) with Boris Johnson (left) and Michael Gove (centre) during the campaign period for the 2016 referendum. Mr Cummings has now become special adviser to Mr Johnson to help deliver Brexit ‘by any means necessary’
Philip Hammond reportedly met with Sir Keir Starmer immediately after he quit as chancellor to talk about how to stop a No Deal Brexit
And he apparently met with Sir Keir, the shadow Brexit secretary, in the hours in between his resignation and Mr Johnson being installed in Number 10.
The ex-chancellor had previously suggested he would be a ‘nightmare’ for Mr Johnson over Brexit on the backbenches and has pledged to do everything he can to stop a bad break from Brussels.
But he has now reportedly already sprung into action in a bid to frustrate the PM’s ‘do or die’ promise to deliver Brexit by October 31.
Mr Hammond and Sir Keir have agreed to work together, along with other pro-Remain MPs, to find a way to block No Deal.
The alliance represents a potentially major headache for Mr Johnson given he has a wafer thin majority in the Commons of just two MPs.
It came as it was claimed Rory Stewart is being lined up to front a campaign to prevent Britain from crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Mr Hammond has been drumming up support for the campaign and he wants Mr Stewart, the unlikely star of the Tory leadership contest, to lead the charge.
Mr Stewart also resigned from the Cabinet before he could be sacked by Mr Johnson who insisted that everyone who serves under him must support the option of No Deal.
New Chancellor Sajid Javid has also said that ‘all necessary funding’ arrangements will be made available for a no-deal, with plans for 500 extra Border Force officers and possibly new port infrastructure
Today, The Mail on Sunday revealed Mr Cummings plans to turn the Conservative Party conference at the end of September into a Brexit rally.
The annual gathering of the Tory faithful, to be held in Manchester this year, finishes just 29 days before the Government’s planned EU departure on October 31.
This year, the entire four-day meeting will be used to ‘hammer home the Government’s message that we are leaving on October 31 with or without a deal’.
Mr Cummings told Whitehall advisers and spin doctors on Friday that they were not part of ‘a usual Government’ but rather one facing ‘a constitutional crisis’.
He said: ‘You should be doing the bare minimum with regards to conference, as minimal an amount as possible. The usual big speeches by loads of different Ministers with lots of policy announcements to chase headlines are just not going to happen.
‘What you have to realise is that the conference is going to be just days away from Brexit, and that is all it will be about.’
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to urge him to block Mr Cummings’ appointment after he previously refused to give evidence to a committee of MPs.