Ministers are now publishing correspondence with the EU negotiators that reveals the extent of their gross failure to prepare for the disastrous no-deal outcome they have been relentlessly steering towards since Johnson took office as PM.

But relax: according to the Chancellor, however appalling the situation after Britain crashes out with only WTO rules to trade upon, those of us who can still afford to travel to the EU will be able to take comfort in the old-fashioned pleasure of … duty free booze and fags.

A government press release on September 10 headlined “Chancellor announces return of duty-free,” and enthused:

“Passengers travelling to EU countries will be able to buy beer, spirits, wine and tobacco without duty being applied in the UK, thanks to the lifting of EU rules.”

“For example, a holidaymaker could save more than £12 on two crates of beer. The travel industry has been calling on the government to re-introduce duty-free, which stopped when the EU Single Market was introduced.”

The prospect of Brits drowning their sorrows with large quantities of duty-free drink and puffing their way through bulk buys of tobacco will no doubt add to the concerns of public health experts, who were already warning that a no-deal Brexit is a threat to public health.

A letter to the Guardian signed by 29 leaders in public health warns that:

“Brexit is proceeding at a time when the long-term improvement in life expectancy has slowed and, for some age groups, gone into reverse, while the most vulnerable in our population face growing insecurity of income, employment and even food.

“We believe that all of these would be exacerbated by a no-deal Brexit.”

The health threat from a no-deal comes in addition to the growing problems of social inequality that are driving a deepening of health inequalities: the latest analysis shows a massive 16 year difference in healthy life expectancy between different areas of Britain – as wide as the gap in life expectancy between Britain and Sudan.

The people with the fewest average years in good health were in Blaenau Gwent in South Wales, with just 54.3 years: the highest healthy life expectancy in Britain is in leafy Wokingham, at 70.7 years:  the national average is 63.6 years.

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