With just under 100 days to go before the March 29 deadline for Britain to exit the European Union - and no sign that Prime Minister Theresa May is any closer to getting a deal through Parliament - both sides stepped up plans for what was once unthinkable: a no-deal Brexit. After two years of often ill-tempered negotiations produced an unpopular deal, the past week has seen the UK government and EU publish contingency plans to reduce disruptions that would be triggered by an exit without a negotiated agreement. The EU's proposals aim to ensure short-term continuity, especially in key sectors like finance and transport. While this might provide some degree of reassurance, the expected chaos of such a divorce is hard to mask - especially in the plans by Britain.
The UK military is placing some 3,500 service personnel on standby to help deal with any disruptions. Cabinet is also drawing up plans to reserve space on cross-channel ferries for key goods, in anticipation of trade over the Dover-Calais route coming to a near halt. The government is also budgeting an extra £2 billion (S$3.5 billion) for the Brexit transition, including one with no-deal. In publishing its plans, the European Commission warned that these are meant primarily as contingencies. In other words, a damage limitation exercise, and not as ideas for a viable alternative to a deal.