Whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson has firmly reiterated that Britain will leave the European Union on October 31 “no matter what”, one of his top ministers appeared to be less certain about the departure date when defending the £2.1bn the Government has set aside to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak’s words - “at some point we will be leaving the European Union - hopefully by the end of October is our clear desire” - will do little to reassure an electorate utterly fed up by the Brexit deadlock and undoubtedly concerned at the Bank of England’s latest warning that Britain has a one in three chance of plunging into recession as uncertainty drags down the economy.
Already this week, the value of the pound has suffered over the prospect of a no-deal departure, with the BoE warning of possible further drops and, in another blow, the chief executive of Vauxhall-owner PSA has claimed it could shift production from its Ellesmere Port factory to an alternative site, putting 1,000 jobs under threat, if the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU make it unprofitable.
All this encapsulates why Mr Johnson’s strategy for departure is vitally important. Yesterday saw him chair his “Brexit war cabinet”, formally known as the Exit Strategy Committee or XS, for the first time and whilst it is this small group of senior cabinet ministers that will make crucial decisions regarding Brexit policy over the next three months, their strategy must be one that puts all of Britain on the best possible footing, with the utmost preparation. Too much is at stake.