Stop ‘no deal’ planning, officials told

12 Apr 19

Thousands of civil servants have reportedly been told to halt £4bn planning for a “no-deal” Brexit after the EU granted Britain an extension.

An email from a civil servant obtained by Sky News said the government would “wind down” no-deal planning, which had been allocated £4bn in funding.

The letter said: “This morning, at a meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, we agreed that the objective is to ensure we wind down our no-deal planning in a careful, considered and orderly way.

“In common with the rest of government, we have stood down our no-deal operational planning with immediate effect.”

In a subsequent interview with Sky News, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “It would have been irresponsible not to prepare for no deal, so long as it was a real possible outcome.

“Making preparations for events that we hope will not happen is an everyday part of government.”

Since triggering Article 50 in 2017 the government has moved thousands of civil servants onto projects aimed at preparing for a no deal scenario.

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker, also a member of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, said on Twitter the government was acting out of “sheer spite”.

A government spokesperson said: “As a responsible government, we’ve been preparing for over two years to minimise any disruption in the event of no deal.

“In light of this week’s developments, departments will make sensible decisions about the timing and pace at which some of this work is processing given that the date we leave the EU has changed, but we will absolutely continue to make all necessary preparations.”

Local authorities were told by communities secretary James Brokenshire in February to intensify no-deal planning.

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