Defense will assign the military to ports or airports in case the country does not reach an agreement on its departure with the EU.
The British Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday that will put 3,500 soldiers “on alert” in case they must attend other government departments, for example in ports or airports, in case of a Brexit without agreement. The measure is part of the preparations that has begun to study the Government of Theresa May before the possibility, every day closer, that there is a sudden departure from the Union just within 101 days .
In an intervention in the House of Commons, the defense minister, Gavin Williamson, said that the planned mobilization will include “regular and reserve” soldiers, ready to collaborate in the tasks assigned to them. Williamson added that no “formal request” had yet been received to use those forces.
The Conservative government decided on Tuesday at its weekly meeting to “give operational priority” to the preparations for a possible abrupt departure from the European Union at 12 midnight on March 30, 2019 (11 pm on March 29, 2019 in the United Kingdom), although he insisted that the Executive’s intention is to leave the bloc in a negotiated manner . Williamson revealed the “contingency plans” when asked if any other Ministry had requested the help of “the First Class Armed Forces” of the United Kingdom in the case of a hard Brexit.
The minister replied that, although he had not received “requests for support” at the moment, he has arranged for that contingent of soldiers to be available to collaborate in any crisis scenario, such as long lines at the borders.
In the weekly council of ministers, the Conservative Executive analyzed the measures that will be taken to prepare a possible, although unwanted, exit from the EU without withdrawal agreement or for the future commercial relationship. Among other measures, the Ministry of Economy plans to distribute 2,000 million pounds (an additional 2,200 million euros) between different ministries and send emails to companies with instructions to prepare them.
The Minister for Brexit, Stephen Barclay , said that the “pace” of publication of these recommendations to companies will increase. The Government has already published dozens of technical notes in recent months that prevent some consequences of a hard Brexit , such as increased telephone rates, bank fees, possible shortages of drugs or lack of coordination in transport. According to Downing Street, some 80,000 companies especially affected by an exit without agreement will receive an email in the coming days. In addition, an informative guide of more than 100 pages will be published.
At least 11 of May’s ministers, according to The Times , contemplate the possibility of a Brexit without agreement as a realistic option rather than as an attempt to reinforce the UK’s negotiating position vis-à-vis Brussels. The Executive is divided between those who think that it is no longer worthwhile to continue promoting the agreement, which has no sign of being backed in Parliament , and those who defend any option, new referendum included, rather than a sudden departure from the EU institutions .
“The responsibility of the ministers is not to let loose unicorns out there, but rather to annihilate them,” said David Gauke, the head of Justice. The Minister of Labor and Pensions, Amber Rudd, who has publicly demanded that Parliament be allowed to vote on all possible options, also rejected the chaotic scenario of a Brexit without agreement. “The fact of wearing a safety belt does not mean you have to crash the car,” he said, referring to the preparations made by the government for the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the EU on March 29, 2019.
May has vowed to submit the pact for the Brexit negotiated with the EU to a parliamentary vote in the week of January 14, after having suspended the one scheduled for December 11, but it is not clear that it will be able to obtain the necessary support to be approved , which would make a drastic departure from the Union more likely.