There are strong fears that Britain would leave without a deal on 29 March.
“In such conditions, the government’s responsibility is to make sure the country is ready. That’s why I have decided to trigger the plan for a no-deal Brexit,” the French prime minister, Édouard Philippe, has said.
Five decrees will be issued soon, including authorisation for major investment in new infrastructure such as border control checkpoints, roads, lorry parks and warehouses at the ports and airports “most concerned” by the prospect of no deal, Philippe said.
Authorities will also start hiring 600 extra government employees to deal with the consequences for cross-border trade of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, including customs, veterinary and other inspectors to carry out the necessary checks on goods, livestock and food products.