The government has announced an extra £2.1 billion funding package to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, which includes plans to boost border force officer numbers.
Other contingencies to be funded by the money set aside by the government this year – which has now doubled with this new package – include upgrades to transport infrastructure at ports and more money to ease traffic congestion in Kent and queues created by delays at the border.
With the UK set to leave the EU on 31 October and new prime minister Boris Johnson not ruling out a no-deal Brexit, experts and critics say the prospect is becoming increasingly likely.
However, former transport secretary Chris Grayling reassured both business and leisure travellers that flights between the UK and EU would continue to operate even in the event of a no-deal Brexit after agreeing to reciprocate on plans by the European Commission.
New chancellor Sajid Javid said departments and devolved administrations would be given a total of £1.1 billion immediately, with another £1 billion set aside “should it be needed”.
The government has set aside a total of £6.3 billion to prepare for Brexit since 2016.
£344 million will go towards bolstering border and customs operations, including an extra 500 border force officers, which will bring the total number of new officers hired to 1,000 this year.
Plans are also aimed at boosting capacity to process UK passport applications this year and doubling the support available for customs agents to train new staff or invest in better IT so businesses can get help to complete customs declarations.
Javid said: “With 92 days until the UK leaves the European Union it’s vital that we intensify our planning to ensure we are ready. We want to get a good deal that abolishes the anti-democratic backstop. But if we can’t get a good deal, we’ll have to leave without one. This additional £2.1 billion will ensure we are ready to leave on 31 October – deal or no deal.”
According to the BBC, former Border Force director general Tony Smith said that while the extra funding is a “step in the right direction”, more should have been done earlier.