Government: Start preparing for no-deal Brexit

By Dan Peters | 19 December 2018

Ministers are ‘ramping up’ planning for a no-deal Brexit as the prospect becomes more likely.

Downing Street said businesses and citizens should immediately prepare for leaving without a deal.

Brexit secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘The Government’s priority remains to secure a deal, but we need to recognise, with 14 weeks to go, that a responsible Government is preparing for the eventuality that we leave without a deal.’

The MJ revealed in October that local authorities were being warned to prepare for up to three months of disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with resilience forums asked to prepare for ‘reasonable, worst case scenarios’ - which could include runs on banks, petrol and food.

One council chief executive said: ‘I am more worried about civil unrest than I was during the original referendum.

'The original referendum did not have the potential for protest that exists with any of the outcomes of the possible next stage.’

The Government has invested more than £4bn in preparing for Brexit since 2016, with the Treasury yesterday allocating £35m to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to spend in 2019/20.

MHCLG’s allocation will be dwarfed by the £480m to be handed to the Home Office, the £410m for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the £375m for HM Revenue & Customs.

Senior MHCLG servants have privately admitted that Brexit is taking priority over their preparations for next year’s Spending Review.

They are keen for councils to start preparing for all eventual outcomes despite the lack of certainty around what will happen.

The National Audit Office is understood to be looking into Brexit readiness on an ongoing basis.

Ministers have yet to decide on contentious plans for a £30,000 minimum earning threshold for new immigrants after Brexit.

Former Local Government Association chief executive Carolyn Downs, who is now boss of Brent LBC, tweeted that the care sector would be ‘completely destroyed’ by the crackdown.

Director of policy at older people’s charity Independent Age, George McNamara, added: 'Adopting a £30,000 minimum salary threshold would be a punishing and cold view of those who provide daily care for older people and some of the most vulnerable in society, and will only result in more people unable to access vital health and care support.'

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Whitehall Finance Local Government Association MHCLG Chief executives NAO Spending Review Brexit
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