Government stops no-deal Brexit planning with 'immediate effect'

7 January 2020, 06:43

The UK's exit from the EU looks set to take place on January 31 2020
The UK's exit from the EU looks set to take place on January 31 2020. Picture: PA

Government planning for a no-deal Brexit has been stopped with "immediate effect" as Boris Johnson predicts his exit deal will be approved by MPs.

In a letter dated December 23, Clare Moriarity, the permanent secretary at the Brexit department, said the Government would "now focus on the delivery aspect of the current deal and the future relationship negotiations."

The letter, obtained by Sky News, says Operation Yellowhammer was brought to a halt just days before Christmas.

Operation Yellowhammer is the codename for the Government’s key no-deal Brexit plan which details the response to the most severe anticipated short-term disruption under a no-deal Brexit.

In summer 2019 documents relating to the emergency planning were leaked to the press, they showed Theresa May's Government was preparing for a three-month meltdown at ports, and possible shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

The leaked letter, which is marked "Official Sensitive", suggests civil servants will no longer be re-deployed into no-deal Brexit related roles, as civil service chiefs expect the prime minister's exit deal to pass the Commons and become law.

The letter states: "In the light of the successful vote at the Second Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Friday, the Prime Minister has now confirmed the Government's intention to stand down no-deal planning for 31 January 2020 with immediate effect."

With Boris Johnson obtaining a majority of 80 MPs in the December general election it looks certain his Withdrawal Agreement Bill will pass in Parliament, meaning the UK's exit from the EU will be secured on January 31.

On Monday night a government spokesperson confirmed: "In light of the successful vote at Second Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, we decided to step down Government's preparations for leaving the EU without a deal.

"We are confident that we will ratify the Brexit deal by 31 January. This will allow Government to focus on the people's priorities in 2020, including the NHS and levelling up innovation, infrastructure and opportunities across the country."

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