Preparations for no deal Brexit to be 'stepped up' across Whitehall, Theresa May tells Cabinet
Preparations for a no deal Brexit are being "stepped up" across Whitehall amid rising fears that the UK and EU will fail to reach an agreement before next March.
Dominic Raab, who replaced David Davis as Brexit Secretary on Monday, has been tasked with ensuring Britain is ready if it crashes out of the bloc.
The Cabinet finally agreed its Brexit approach at Chequers last Friday, with the Prime Minister winning backing for a proposal which would keep the UK and Brussels closely linked on trade.
But that sparked the resignations of both Mr Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said the plan would leave Britain as a "colony" of the EU.
After Mrs May's new-look top team met in Number 10 for the first time, her spokesman said: "Cabinet discussed the forthcoming publication of the white paper on the future partnership with the EU and also how no deal preparation work is to be stepped up."
He added: "We've always said it is sensible to make preparations for all scenarios and that includes no deal."
It is unclear at this stage how much is being spent on the work, or what specific areas are being looked at.
Speaking after he was appointed to his new role, Mr Raab said: "We want to get the best deal with our EU friends and partners, but we are also going to step up the preparations for no deal in case the spirit of pragmatism and compromise that we've extended is not reciprocated."
Labour MP Virendra Sharma, of pro-EU group Best For Britain, said: "This just shows the Government's confidence in the fragile Chequers proposal. First David Davis and Boris Johnson abandoned it; now it looks like even Theresa May thinks it's a stinker.
"A no deal scenario would cause irreparable harm to the UK economy, killing off job growth and business interest in this country. It's time politicians woke up to the bespoke deal we've been building with the EU over the last 40 years. We need a People's Vote with the option to stay in the EU and prevent Brexit ruin."