Brexit briefing: Government stands down no-deal Brexit plans

Government stands down no-deal Brexit plans

Friday, April 12, 2019

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.

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.

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."

The Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 in Kent one of the preparations being stood down.

Highways England has said the work to remove the contraflow has begun but will not be completed until next weekend.

A spokesman said that it was decided to lift Operation Brock due to the reduced threat of disruption to services across the English Channel in the coming weeks.

Operation Brock, which also includes Manston Airfield and the M26, aims to keep traffic moving in Kent in light of cross-Channel disruption.

Once the contraflow is deactivated three lanes will run coastbound at the national speed limit and two lanes will run London-bound at a speed limit of 50mph.

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