A Downing Street source said “in common with the rest of government we have stood down our no-deal operational planning with immediate effect”. The news triggered an angry reaction from Brexiteers, with Tory MP Crispin Blunt describing it as a “confidence matter if true”, implying it could trigger the fall of Theresa May’s Government. Mr Blunt tweeted: “This would be a confidence matter for me if true. @Commons Foreign 12 March 2017 unanimously called this a dereliction of duty.
“No deal is not just a matter for UK unless PM has decided to revoke. That’d complete betrayal of 2016 referendum & 2017 GE.”
Labour’s Darren Jones posted: “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.”
Speaking on Sky News earlier, Mr Goodall said “millions and millions of man-hours” had been spent already on no deal planning.
He added: “The fact that this was at a meeting discussed by the cabinet secretary himself, the head of the civil service, indicates that as far as operationally at least, the civil service is winding down its no deal planning with immediate effect.
“The fact is politically at least it is a really big issue.
“Because as far as Brexiteers are concerned the only thing that was keeping the EU interested is the idea that we might somehow end up with no deal.”
Meanwhile Kent County Council Highways subsequently confirmed it was “standing down” work on Operation Brock, the £15million operation to install a contraflow system on the to help with possible disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Steel barriers and a 50mph speed limit have already been installed as part of preparations.
A message posted on KCC Highways’ official twitter account said: “UPDATE: Operation Brock: @HighwaysSEast announce works to stand down the #M20 contraflow start tonight.”
Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat told KentOnline: “I have spoken to the roads minister who said Operation Brock would be delayed and hopefully will never now be needed because of the agreement.
“It is good news for our community.”
Ashford MP Damian Green said: “If we are definitely not leaving at the end of this week then I see no reason to continue with Operation Brock and I hope it can be lifted as soon as possible.”
A Downing Street spokesman did not deny the truth of the story, saying: “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 necessary preparations.”