Department for International Trade Under Threat of Closure

The BBC’s Norman Smith is reporting that Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade “has been told to drop everything else and just focus on No deal planning as the most likely outcome.” Lots of Brexiteers are cheering this news…

Guido thinks they are cheering too soon. Presumably the calculation now is that either we head toward no deal… or the new deal that passes a Commons vote with Labour backing hinges on membership of the EU’s customs union, and therefore the department will be shut down as surplus to requirements.

There are about 80 members of the ERG. May’s deal lost by 230. Either the clock runs down to no deal, which would require steel heretofore unseen in the PM, or Number 10 folds to the demands of our Remain voting parliament, and commits to a customs union. Bleak.

UPDATE: A DIT insider confirms that the Department is now focusing heavily on no deal preparations. It appears to be less of a surprise to the staff there than it is to the press…

UPDATE II: Another DIT source also confirms that DIT is now focused on no deal preparations, although this is only an intensification of the work they have already been doing for years to prepare for all eventualities. They point out that the Department would still have a role to promote British exports even if the undesirable situation of a customs union arose…


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