The government has published two white papers for life after Brexit,for the first time acknowledging "no deal" as a viable option.
The papers, which relate to customs and trade, build on the government's previous position papers but lay the foundation for legislation required after the UK leaves the EU.
"Government has repeatedly said that we are confident that a positive deal can be reached with the EU, it is only prudent we prepare for every possible outcome. Therefore, the paper covers provisions for the implementation of customs, VAT and excise regimes in the event that no deal is reached, and sets out the steps the Government would take to minimise disruption for businesses and travellers," the government said.
"It also enables the UK to prepare for a range of negotiated outcomes including an implementation period."
The Customs Bill white paper repeats the UK government’s commitment to avoid any physical border infrastructure on either side of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
It also sets out how goods will be classified for duty, set and vary the rates of customs duty and any quotas; amend the VAT and excise regimes so that they can function effectively post-exit; set out the rules governing how HMRC will collect and enforce the taxes and duties owed; and implement tax-related elements of the UK’s future trade policy.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: "Investment and trade are crucial to the economic future of this country. This White Paper sets out our plan to keep trade with the EU as frictionless as possible, and reaffirms the government’s commitment to deliver a smooth transition."
The trade white paper meanwhile sets out plans to enable the UK to "maintain the benefits" of the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement; prepares to bring across into UK law existing trade agreements between EU and non-EU countries; and creates a new, UK trade remedies investigating authority.
International trade secretary Liam Fox said: “We want to build a future trade policy that delivers benefits for the UK’s economy and for businesses, workers and consumers alike. “This paper is the first exciting step and sets out the principles behind an approach which will help British businesses to make the most of trade opportunities, contribute to a growing economy and create prosperity for communities up and down the UK.”
The papers were published as Theresa May updated MPs on progress made since her Florence speech last month. She insisted the ball was in the EU's court, but that she was confident a deal could be struck that would prove "the doomsayers wrong".