Boris Johnson Issues Ultimatum to EU Over Brexit Talks as Pound Slumps

Tuesday, 30 Jul, 2019

United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson set up a "war cabinet" of six senior ministers over the weekend to make decisions on Brexit, and is also preparing for a no-deal emergency budget, ministers said.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that the government will fund one of Britain's "biggest ever public information campaigns" to prepare individuals and businesses for a no-deal Brexit.

As a result, Johnson sees no point in meeting with them face-to-face, his spokeswoman Alison Donnelly said on Monday.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Johnson ordered his ministers to get to work on Brexit planning, organising the Exit Strategy Committee - reportedly dubbed by some as the "War Cabinet".

Mr Johnson told the first meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday that he would be taking the title of Minister for the Union alongside that of Prime Minister - a move described by a spokesman as a statement of his commitment to strengthening the Union.

"All the stops are out and the pound is now in free fall", Neil Wilson, an analyst at online brokerage Markets.com, said, adding the pound could tumble all the way to $1.21 if the $1.22 level was breached.

An election win could allow Johnson to overcome parliament's opposition to a no-deal Brexit.

The Theresa May government had come under criticism for halting no-deal preparations in April. "I will be getting on a plane to the U.S. in the next few weeks to move this forward", adding that the United Kingdom will also be looking at free trade agreements with the Commonwealth nations which includes India, Canada, and countries in Africa and the Antipodes. "I'm very confident we'll get there".

Downing Street indicated that Mr Johnson believed Brussels would blink first in the Brexit stand-off by agreeing to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement to make the wholesale changes requested by the Prime Minster.

Sturgeon said that, from her meeting with Johnson, she had gleaned no real clarity about his plans for meeting other European Union leaders. He's been telling them that he won't meet them only to be told that "they can not possibly reopen the withdrawal agreement", Donnelly said.

But there's no sign of the European Union shifting its position. According to an Irish government spokesman, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney spoke to his United Kingdom counterpart Dominic Raab on Friday, reiterating that the withdrawal agreement is closed.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said: "Wales is the only nation of the United Kingdom where Growth Deals have already been announced to cover all of our communities and the Prime Minister and I are committed to building on the successes of our existing collaborative achievements in both south and north Wales". Johnson has pledged not to do this.

This comes as Reuters reported on Monday that the British government is working on the assumption that the European Union will not renegotiate its Brexit deal and is ramping up preparations to leave the bloc on October 31.

Mr Johnson was given a Royal Navy "foulie" jacket emblazoned with "Prime Minister" as a gift by the Ministry of Defence as he visited Faslane Naval Base in Scotland.