The French Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, announced that the country has triggered a €50 million (about $57 million) plan as they gear up for a no-deal Brexit to take place after the U.K. parliament overwhelmingly rejected Theresa May’s proposed accord.
“What’s certain is that the scenario of a no-deal Brexit is less and less unlikely,” Philippe said during a press conference after a meeting with French ministers on Thursday. However, he added that there were “strong fears” that Britain would be forced to leave the European Union without a deal on March 29.
“We want to be ready. This plan incorporates legislative and legal measures aiming to ensure that the rights of both our fellow citizens and our businesses are effectively protected.”
“In such conditions, the government’s responsibility is to make sure the country is ready, that the interests of our citizens are preserved… That’s why I have decided to trigger the plan for a no-deal Brexit,” he announced, as reported by the Guardian.
Philippe said that five new decrees will be issued “within the next three weeks,” most notably an authorization for a huge infrastructure investment, which would see a revamp in border control checkpoints, roads, lorry parks, and warehouses at the ports and airports “most concerned” by the idea of a no-deal E.U. exit. There will also be an impact on cross-border trade in case of a no-deal scenario, for which the authorities are also gearing up by hiring 600 extra government employees, including customs, veterinary, and other inspectors who are able to carry out the newly-required checks on goods, livestock, and food items.
Philippe also revealed that Theresa May had shared text messages with E.U. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker since her catastrophic defeat in Parliament on Tuesday, but that had not yet spoken, the BBC reported.
France is not the only country getting ready for this outcome. An official from the European Union is now set to visit all its 27 capitals in order to organize and prepare the many no-deal plans. Countries with close U.K. bonds, including Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, and Spain, have all started preparations for the country’s departure from the E.U. without a deal at the end of March.
Spain announced that they would be boosting the number of staff members at their immigration offices in case the no-deal scenario happens, as about 310,000 British citizens have made the southern European country their home in the past few decades. Officials also said they would have to confirm their residency status.
Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, took on a more optimistic approach and told the German Parliament on Thursday that the country would gear up for a disorderly Brexit, but that they “will do everything we can so that Britain exits with and not without an agreement.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has until January 21 to present a new withdrawal plan to members of Parliament, who will then vote on it eight days later.