Anger as ministers scrub claim from Brexit documents that no-deal departure is 'unlikely'

Posted On: 
19th December 2018

Pro-EU campaigners have lashed out after Government departments were ordered to scrub a claim from dozens of documents that a no-deal Brexit was “unlikely”.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay
Credit: 
PA Images

A prominent MP branded the move “bureaucratic deceitfulness” and said quitting the bloc without an agreement would mean “economic carnage” for the country.

PoliticsHome understands that the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) ordered the update to a series of documents laying out contingency plans for a no-deal departure.

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The so-called technical notices - which were released over summer and autumn this year - said it was “unlikely” that the UK would leave the EU without a future deal.

But DExEU told fellow departments the word should be scrubbed from the text - with many already undergoing the change today.

The decision came after the Cabinet agreed that a no-deal Brexit should become an “operational priority,” amid concerns MPs will reject the agreement Theresa May hammered out with Brussels.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran - speaking on behalf of the Best for Britain campaign - told PoliticsHome: “This should worry everyone that the government are ramping up their no-deal pressure.

“They can change the words to whatever they want but no deal will be economic carnage for the country. No government of any stripe could support that. This is just bureaucratic deceitfulness.”

Yesterday the Cabinet agreed that Brits and businesses will be given stark official warnings about the possible impact of a no-deal over the next few weeks.

Ministers also decided to allocate £2bn in no-deal funding to government departments, and put more than 3,000 troops on standby to help.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said it was agreed that "preparing for no-deal will be an operational priority within government". 

A spokesperson for DExEU told PoliticsHome: “The language on gov.uk has been updated to reflect yesterday’s Cabinet decision to enact the remaining elements of our no deal preparations.

“We fully expect to get a deal and believe that is the most likely outcome - that is what we are focused on delivering.”