Johnson Says U.K. Will Be Ready to Leave Oct. 31: Brexit Update

Alex Morales and Robert Hutton

(Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit, sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, and tell us your Brexit story. 

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to do “everything necessary” to prevent a no-deal Brexit, amid reports the government is preparing for a three-month “meltdown” at ports if Britain crashes out of the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he still wants an agreement with the bloc, but the U.K. will be ready to leave on Oct. 31 without one.

Key Developments:

Corbyn renewed pledge to hold a second Brexit referendum if general election called this yearPrime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. will be ready to leave the EU with or without a deal on Oct. 31; will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron this weekSunday Times newspaper cited leaked documents showing the government is preparing for shortages of food and medicine, as well as a hard Irish border, in a no-deal Brexit scenarioPound dropped 0.3%

Johnson: U.K. Will Be Ready on Oct. 31 (12:45 p.m.)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he still wants a Brexit deal with the European Union, but that Britain will be ready to leave the bloc without one on Oct. 31 if necessary.

“I want a deal,’’ Johnson told Sky News on Monday. “We’re ready to work with our friends and partners to get a deal, but if you want a good deal for the U.K., you must simultaneously get ready to come out without one.’’

The premier, who is going to Berlin and Paris this week to discuss Brexit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, said EU leaders were “showing a little bit of reluctance at the moment to change their position.’’ But he said he was “confident” they’ll shift.

U.K. Has ‘Stepped Up’ No-Deal Planning (12.30 pm)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokeswoman insisted the leaked document (see earlier) on “Operation Yellowhammer’’ -- the government’s worst-case plans for a no-deal Brexit -- are out of date.

“We have significantly stepped up planning,’’ Alison Donnelly told reporters Monday. “You can see that work is ongoing. A significant amount of work has been done. There’s still work to do in various areas.’’

She refused to discuss details of the leak further, but said the coming public information campaign would help with no-deal planning.

Donnelly said the free movement of EU citizens in and out of Britain will end on Oct. 31, but offered only one example of how: “Much tighter’’ rules on whether people with criminal records can come in. She urged EU citizens living in the U.K. to apply for settled status. She also ruled out recalling Parliament early, as requested by some MPs over the weekend (see 8:30 a.m.).

Corbyn Renews Election, Referendum Pledges (11:30 a.m.)

Corbyn renewed his promise to call a no-confidence vote in the government and if successful, form a temporary administration to call an election. Labour, he said in a speech in Corby, central England, would promise to hold a second referendum because opinions have hardened in the past three years.

“No outcome will now have legitimacy without the people’s endorsement,” Corbyn said. Labour will “give voters the final say with credible options on both sides including the option to remain.”

Corbyn also said his party will do “everything necessary to stop a disastrous no-deal, for which this government has no mandate.” When Parliament returns in September, “this country is heading into a political and constitutional storm,” he said.

Taking questions from the press afterward, Corbyn agreed with his finance spokesman, John McDonnell, that Parliament should return early (see 8:30 a.m.) from its summer recess. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokeswoman ruled it out in a briefing to reporters on Monday morning.

Labour Seeks Parliamentary Recall Over Brexit (8:30 a.m.)

The Labour Party believes Prime Minister Boris Johnson should recall Parliament from its summer recess in the coming days to discuss the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the main opposition’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, said on Monday.

McDonnell was responding to a question on BBC radio about the group of more than 100 lawmakers, including Labour backbenchers, who have written to Johnson to make that request. Parliament is due to resume on Sept. 3.

“It’s a good initiative by this group of MPs to say that we need to get back into Parliament,” McDonnell said. “We’re facing a critical issue here and we should be debating it in Parliament.”

Former Sainsbury’s Boss Warns of Brexit Food Shock (Earlier)

Former J Sainsbury Plc Chief Executive Officer Justin King said the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline comes at just about the worst time of the year for the food-supply chain, and that the document leaked to the Sunday Times on the impact of a no-deal Brexit presages a major crisis.

“Anything other than silky smooth at our borders particular at Dover-Calais is going to have very significant impacts on the food supply chain in the U.K.,” King told BBC radio. By the end of October, food is already being stored up for Christmas, leaving little spare capacity to stockpile in anticipation of border delays, he said.

CBI Says No-Deal Impacts Show Need for Deal (Earlier)

The document leaked to the Sunday Times detailing the anticipated impact of a no-deal Brexit -- including port delays and fuel shortages -- shows just how “incredibly serious for our economy” such an outcome would be, Confederation of British Industry Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn told BBC radio Monday.

“Business does have to prepare, but above all else what this does show is we must be trying to get a deal -- and that must be the number one priority of government,” Fairbairn said, adding that the U.K. as become more prepared in recent weeks for “the short-run disruption.”

“Not fully prepared, I don’t think that can be done,” she said. “If you have any delays at borders, that would be significant. I think what we can’t be prepared for though is the long-run impact of a fundamental change in our competitiveness.”

Earlier:

Corbyn Gears Up for Election as Chaotic Brexit Fears EscalateJohnson to Raise Brexit Stakes in Visits to Germany and FrancePound Wins Holiday From Selloff on Resistance to No-Deal Brexit

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robert Hutton at rhutton1@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Andrew Atkinson

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.