Published On: Mon, Aug 19th, 2019

Brexit news: Brussels ‘less prepared’ than UK to end talks on October 31 with no deal | UK | News

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) chief told BBC Radio 4 Today Programme that avoiding a no deal outcome must be the “number one priority” for the Government. But she admitted the UK is now more prepared than the EU to leave without a formal agreement on October 31. Asked whether the Brussels bloc was conducting an “Operation Yellowhammer” of its own, Ms Fairbairn said: “The work that the CBI did a few months ago and published last month shows that if anything the EU is less prepared than the UK.

“There are costs very much on both sides.

“And we would hope that these conversations this week are productive and are focused on getting a deal and that there is a compromise on both sides.”

She added: “I think that what Yellowhammer does show is just how incredibly serious for our economy a no-deal outcome would be.

“It is difficult to predict exactly what the outcome could be but in terms of our conversations with businesses over the years, these feel like plausible outcomes.”

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But the CBI director warned: “We would also totally agree with Michael Gove in terms of the importance of preparation.

“Business does have to prepare but I think, above all else, what this shows is that we must be trying to get a deal.

“And that must be the number-one priority of Government.”

It comes after a sensitive Government’s document on no deal Brexit preparations was leaked to the Sunday Times yesterday. 

The leaked dossier warned Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine under a no deal Brexit.

The document warns to 85 percent of lorries using main channel crossings “may not be ready” for French customs, meaning disrupt at the ports.

A hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is also considered as likely as current plans to avoid widespread checks appears unsustainable.

The dossier predicts price hikes in supermarkets as a result of reduced fresh food availability and hints passengers will face long delays at EU airports, St Pancras, Eurotunnel and Dover.

A senior Whitehall source told The Sunday Times: “This is not Project Fear — this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios — not the worst case.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to deliver Brexit by the end of October “come what may”, with the Tory Party leader demanding changes to the withdrawal agreement before the UK re-enters discussions with the EU.

The Brussels bloc has refused to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and stood firm against ejecting the controversial backstop mechanism within the deal.

The Prime Minister is yet to meet EU leaders since taking over from Theresa May, but Mr Johnson will travel to Paris and Berlin next week to meet Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel for crunch Brexit talks.

The meetings will take place ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz, with the clock counting down to Britain’s departure from the bloc on October 31.

The Cabinet Office and Number 10 told they would not be commenting on leaked documents.

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