LONDON (Aug 22): Britain will on Thursday publish a series of notes advising people and businesses how to protect themselves from the potential disruption of a 'no deal' break with the European Union, from stockpiling drugs to new paperwork for trade.
With less than eight months to go until March 29 when it leaves the bloc, Britain has yet to reach a divorce agreement with the EU. Negotiations resumed on Tuesday but diplomats in Brussels expect an informal deadline of October to be missed.
"Whilst we are setting out these technical notices today to deal with the unlikely eventuality of a no deal I am still confident that a good deal is within our sights," Brexit Minister Dominic Raab told BBC radio.
"What we are going to do today is to be honest about the risks."
Prime Minister Theresa May has been battling to keep her government intact and strike a deal with Brussels that does not damage British trade.
Around 80 technical notices are expected over the coming weeks, revealing the extent to which Britain has contingency plans in place. The government has maintained throughout the negotiation process that it is preparing for all possible outcomes, including 'no deal'.
Several ministers have warned that the risk of leaving without an agreement has increased. Earlier this month trade minister Liam Fox put the chances at 60-40.
Raab will give a speech on Thursday mid-morning when he will say that in some cases Britain will take unilateral action to maintain continuity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The notes are expected to be published on the government's website at around 11.30am (1030 GMT).
The highly regulated pharmaceuticals sector is one of the most vulnerable to Brexit because of uncertainty as to how drug oversight will function if Britain leaves the pan-European medicines regulatory system abruptly in March 2019.
The industry has long warned of the risk of disruption and some companies, including AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Novartis, have said they plan to increase drug stockpiles in Britain in case of a no-deal Brexit.
The government will also announce that British citizens who have lived and worked overseas risk losing access to their pensions, the Sun newspaper reported.
Many economists say failure to agree exit terms would seriously damage the world's fifth-largest economy as trade with the EU, Britain's largest market, would become subject to tariffs.
Supporters of Brexit say there may be some short-term pain for the economy, but that long-term it will prosper when cut free from the EU.
The opposition Labour party's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said the talks with the EU were "going badly" and the publication of the documents on how to prepare for a no deal is a sign the government is "moving into panic mode".
He said his party may back a second referendum if parliament votes down the prime minister's plan.
A survey this month by the Institute of Directors, a business lobby group, found that fewer than a third of company bosses had carried out contingency planning on Brexit.
"'No deal' preparations should have happened far earlier, and the onus is on government to move quickly and give businesses as much detailed technical information as possible to avoid significant disruption in any scenario," Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said before the publication of the advice notices.
Customs and tax procedures, immigration rules and how to process transactions are among the things companies need more information from government on, Marshall said.