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No-deal planning ‘must continue’, says May

THERESA MAY has ordered officials to continue planning for a no-deal Brexit, it emerged yesterday.

The prime minister has written to all civil servants in Whitehall, saying the £4billion contingency plans for Britain leaving the EU without an agreement ‘must continue’ — despite the deadline being stretched to the end of October.

Reports had claimed the civil service was calling off no-deal preparations with ‘immediate effect’ after the UK was granted more time. But the leaked email revealed by PoliticsHome suggested Mrs May (pictured) was keen to dispel such suggestions.

She said: ‘On preparations specifically for leaving the EU without a deal, you will rightly be guided by the cabinet secretary and by your own permanent secretaries about continued planning. Necessary preparations for a no-deal outcome must continue, though with sensibly adjusted timescales given the extension we have agreed.’

She added: ‘While we have an extension until the end of October, that does not mean we should use it.

‘So as a government we will continue to do everything we can to get agreement through Parliament so that we can leave the EU as soon as possible.’ Her proposed Brexit deal has been rejected three times by MPs.

■ THE delay to Brexit must be used by ministers to prepare for the ‘more complicated’ next stage of talks, according to a respected think tank. The Institute for Government warned against repeating the blunders made during the divorce process. It said trade talks would be harder and would set Britain’s relations with other countries for decades to come. Tim Durrant, from the institute, said ministers ‘must not waste time by failing to prepare’.