Papers flashed in sight of Westminster press photographers have revealed new details of Whitehall’s contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit.
As the clock ticks towards the UK’s Article 50 departure date of 29 March 2019 with neither steadfast backing for prime minister Theresa May’s Chequers plan or an offer tabled on the part of the EU, the document offers a snatch view of work to prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
It refers to a two-day workshop organised last week by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat at which departments “plans, assumptions, interdependencies and next steps” in relation to mitigating the impacts of a no-deal Brexit were the primary focus.
Titled “Operation Yellowhammer” the visible section of the document related exclusively to HM Treasury’s key objectives in relation an unmanaged end to the UK’s membership of the European Union.
The Treasury’s main points related to the need to keep confidence in the financial services sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and to emphasise the way that departments should budget their no-deal contingency spending.
“Emphasise the importance of building a XWH communications architecture that can help maintain confidence in the event of contingency plans being triggered – particularly important for financial services,” the document said.
“Explain that departments should be raising Yellowhammer costs through the normal channels – through their spending teams for in-year pressures, and in their bids for 19/20 Brexit allocations for spending in that year. Their first call should be internal reprioritisation.”
Other priorities referred to in the document were the need to consider the importance of businesses that play a role in departmental contingency plans and continued rail access to the European Union.