EXCL Minister left red-faced after claiming bill for no-deal Brexit planning is £2bn less than true figure

Posted On: 
16th May 2019

A minister has been left red-faced after telling MPs that the cost of the Government's planning for a no-deal Brexit was nearly £2bn less than the true figure.

James Cleverly claimed the Government had only spent £2.4bn on no-deal preparations.
Credit: 
PA Images

James Cleverly was forced to backtrack after announcing the erroneous amount in the Commons.

He told MPs that ministers had spent £2.4bn preparing for the possibility of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal.

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However, the Brexit minister was forced to issue a correction admitting the real figure is £4.2bn.

Labour MP Pat McFadden, whose question to the minister led to the gaffe, told PoliticsHome: "The Prime Minister has now applied for two extensions to the Article 50 period in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit yet the Government continues to spend huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on this.

"The minister has now confirmed that the total amount allocated is £4.2bn and not £2.4bn as he said in the chamber.

"A difference of £1.8bn isn’t a rounding error.  It’s a huge amount of money and it could make a real difference to the fight against knife crime, to school budgets and a number of other urgent needs rather than being squandered on an idea the Prime Minister doesn’t even believe in.

"Rather than being the answer to the country’s needs, the resources and political energy being consumed by Brexit make it harder to address those needs."

In his letter to the Wolverhampton South East MP, Mr Cleverly - who only became Brexit minister last month - said: "In today's oral questions to my department, you asked how much government departments have spent on preparations for leaving the EU without a deal.

"In my response, I detailed that since 2016, HM Treasury has allocated over £2.4 billion of additional funding for all exit scenarios.

"I am writing to correct my inaccuracy, I had intended to detail the correct figure of £4.2 billion."

Mr McFadden added: "It’s not surprising that Brexit hasn’t exactly gone well when the ministers in charge of it don’t even know how much they are spending on it."