The Government is standing down emergency preparations for a no-deal Brexit following the latest delay to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it has been reported.
The decision to halt no-deal operational planning by officials was taken at a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, according to a leaked email seen by Sky News.
The email, which was said to have been sent to all civil servants in an unnamed “front line Brexit department”, says the suspension was taking place with “immediate effect”.
Downing Street said departments were taking “sensible decisions” about the timing of their no-deal preparations following the agreement by EU leaders to extend the Article 50 withdrawal process to October 31.
However the move is likely to infuriate Tory Brexiters already angry at the latest delay to Britain’s departure from the EU.
The Government has committed £4 billion to no-deal preparations, but some MPs believe the six-month extension shows Theresa May was never prepared to countenance leaving without a deal.
Former Brexit minister Steve Baker, who is now deputy chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, accused the Government of acting out of “sheer spite”.
“Officials have worked exceptionally hard to deliver our preparedness and deserve better,” he tweeted.
According to Sky, the email said: “In common with the rest of government, we have stood down our no-deal operational planning with immediate effect.
“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.”
A Downing Street spokesman 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 progressing given that the date we leave the EU has changed, but we will absolutely continue to make all necessary preparations.”