In Brief

UK holidaymakers warned not to book after 29 March 2019

Alarm amid reports government will advise families not to book flights in case of no-deal Brexit

Downing Street has dismissed claims families will be advised not to book holidays after 29 March 2019, as part of contingency plans being drawn up to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

It comes after The Sunday Times reported “senior officials have explored the idea with at least one cabinet minister and discussed the impact that the advice could have on specific tour operators amid fears it might bankrupt them”.

A Number 10 spokesperson rejected the claim as “categorically untrue”, although the newspaper also reported a leak inquiry was under way in Downing Street to establish how the proposal became public.

As both the government and EU ramp up no-deal preparations, uncertainty about what will happen after the UK formally leaves the bloc at the end of March 2019 has proved deeply unsettling for holidaymakers and travel firms.

The European Regions Airline Association, which represents 50 airlines, wrote to the European Commission this month warning that it must act urgently to prevent the grounding of flights.

One option that has been discussed in the event of a no deal is for the government to cover losses to holiday companies. Another could protect holidaymakers who have yet to book trips from the effects of grounded flights and travel chaos at airports and ports.

Anticipating the impact of crashing out of the EU without a deal, some airlines have already taken measures to mitigate any disruption. Budget operator easyJet has registered more than 100 aircraft to a newly created airline based in Vienna and switched pilot licences to German and Austrian permits.

Last week it was confirmed UK travellers will need to apply for and buy special travel documents to visit the EU after Brexit.

On top of this, The Mail on Sunday reports that British motorist could face an additional charge of £5.50 to enter Europe in the event of a no deal.

British drivers currently need only their plastic UK driving licence to drive in EU countries, “but there are fears that if we leave the EU without a deal, motorists will need the International Driving Permit (IDP) as well”, says the paper.

The BBC says “there are understood to be tensions among government ministers over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, and the impact it might have on the economy.”

The cabinet is expected to focus on no-deal planning when they meet for the final time before Christmas on Tuesday. The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is said to be leading a group of senior ministers that also include the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt who will use the meeting to push for no deal to become the “central planning assumption”.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Hunt said he was positive about a no deal and that he “would like to have a crack” at being prime minister.

“I’ve always thought that even in a no-deal situation this is a great country. We’ll find a way to flourish and prosper,” he told the paper.

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