In Brief

What Boris Johnson’s no-deal ‘nightmare scenario’ squad portends for post-Brexit Britain

Downing Street unit to coordinate response to trio of feared threats to newly independent UK

Boris virtual

Boris Johnson has quietly assembled a Downing Street unit to organise the government’s response to a “nightmare scenario” of a no-deal Brexit, a surge in Covid-19 cases and winter flooding, Whitehall sources have revealed.

The “winter control and coordination cell” will be based in No. 10 and will provide daily confidential briefings to the prime minister on the trio of feared threats in the months ahead, The Times reports.

“Winter is always one of the most challenging times for the government, with pressures on the NHS alongside the risk of things like adverse weather events,” a Whitehall source told the paper. “The question is what happens when you combine all that with Covid and a no-deal Brexit.”

Ministers are reportedly worried that the EU will try to make life “difficult” for Britain, which may face more stringent checks at the border in Calais and tougher rules on handing out permits for UK lorries seeking to enter the bloc.

The unit’s existence has raised questions about the state of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, with Downing Street officials privately conceding that failure to secure a future trade deal with the EU is likely to result in widespread disruption.

Boris Johnson is preparing for last-ditch talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over dinner tonight in Brussels. EU sources told the BBC that their chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has briefed the bloc’s Europe ministers that talks were “tilting towards no deal being reached before the deadline”.

A failure to achieve a breakthrough during the face-to-face meeting between Johnson and von der Leyen would make a no-deal exit “much more likely, with some European leaders believed to be running out of patience”, adds Sky News.

Recommended

‘How will we afford it?’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘How will we afford it?’

Budget predictions: what’s Rishi Sunak got in store?
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak poses with the Budget Box outside 11 Downing Street
Today’s big question

Budget predictions: what’s Rishi Sunak got in store?

London ULEZ expansion: who is affected, plus charges, penalties and how to pay
ULEZ
In Depth

London ULEZ expansion: who is affected, plus charges, penalties and how to pay

MoD urged to investigate cover-up claims in murder of Kenyan woman
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
Why we’re talking about . . .

MoD urged to investigate cover-up claims in murder of Kenyan woman

Popular articles

Insulate Britain: what do they want?
Insulate Britain protesters
Profile

Insulate Britain: what do they want?

What is blackfishing?
Shot of Jesy Nelson with her hair in braids
In Depth

What is blackfishing?

Why a ‘super-cold’ is spreading
flu_sneeze.jpg
Getting to grips with . . .

Why a ‘super-cold’ is spreading

The Week Footer Banner