The Government is tonight standing down emergency preparations for a no-deal Brexit costing £4million after Theresa May agreed to a six-month delay with EU leaders.
Civil servants were told to halt emergency preparations ‘with immediate effect’. This includes Operation Brock, which reserved one side of the M20 for lorries to avoid queues at Dover.
The move infuriated Tory Brexiteers already angry at the latest delay to Britain’s departure from the EU.
Civil servants have halted emergency plans for a No Deal Brexit after Theresa May (pictured in the Commons today) secured a delay to Britain’s departure
The decision to halt no-deal operational planning by officials was taken at a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, according to a leaked email.
It read: ‘In common with the rest of government, we have stood down our no-deal operational planning with immediate effect.
‘This morning, at a meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, we agreed that the objective is to ensure we wind down our no-deal planning in a careful, considered and orderly way.’
Responding to the Sky News revelation, Downing Street said departments were taking ‘sensible decisions’ about the timing of their no-deal preparations following the agreement by EU leaders to extend the withdrawal process to October 31.
Operation Brock, which involves part of the M20 being turned into a lorry park to tackle delays at Dover, is among the projects being scrapped from tonight.
The project saw lorries heading for Europe driving at 30mph along the coastbound carriage of the M20.
All other traffic, including lorries carrying out UK deliveries, had to use a 50mph contraflow of two lanes in each direction on the London-bound side of the road.
Highways England confirmed it was working tonight to dismantle the contraflow on the London-bound side. A steel barrier will remain in place.
Brexit minister James Cleverly tweeted: ‘The extension means that we are not leaving tomorrow with no deal, this instruction reflects that. Government departments will still make necessary preparations until we actually vote for a deal.’
He later added: ‘There is a world of difference between ongoing no-deal preparation (which continues) and imminent no-deal Brexit planning (which stops because of the extension).’
Brexiteers reacted with fury at the plan, with former Brexit minister Steve Baker accusing the government of acting out of ‘sheer spite’.
The now deputy chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group tweeted: ‘Officials have worked exceptionally hard to deliver our preparedness and deserve better.’
Operation Brock, which involves part of the M20 being turned into a lorry park to cope with delays at Dover, is among the projects being scrapped from tonight. Pictured: The first day of Operation Brock on March 25
Mark Francois, vice-chairman of the Tory Brexiteer European Research Group, said the move was a ‘great mistake’.
‘Very many junior and middle ranking civil servants have been working very hard on Brexit preparations for over two years, while quite a few of their bosses in the senior civil service never believed in it in the first place,’ he told Sky News.
‘Our civil service is now crying out for reform.’
Labour figures used tonight’s announcement to criticise the government for ‘wasting’ billions of pounds.
Darren Jones tweeted: ‘We spent what, £4bn, on no deal preparations? Is that right?
‘£4bn of tax payers money preparing for something no British government could really let happen whilst our schools, hospitals, councils and police struggle on without proper funding. What a disgrace of a Government.’
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘As a responsible Government, we’ve been preparing for over two years to minimise any disruption in the event of no deal.
‘In light of this week’s developments, departments will make sensible decisions about the timing and pace at which some of this work is progressing given that the date we leave the EU has changed, but we will absolutely continue to make all necessary preparations.’
Tory MP Steve Baker (seen meeting protesters outside Parliament on March 29) claimed the decision to wind down No Deal plans was driven by ‘sheer spite’