UK in "pretty good shape" for no-deal Brexit, says civil service chief
Cabinet secretary and Head of the civil service Sir Mark Sedwill believes that the UK government and public services are in "pretty good shape" to cope with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
He said that “a lot of preparation” had gone into preparing the UK for a no-deal departure from the EU at an event organised by the Institute for Government.
“We have got the government in pretty good shape and public services in pretty good shape for it [no-deal Brexit].
“We did a lot of preparation for no-deal in the run-up to the March/April deadline and of course, we continue to try and keep those programmes in the best possible shape”.
However, some doubt has been cast on Sedwill’s comments following revelations concerning the response rate to HMRC’s Transitional Simplified Procedures scheme which rolled out in February.
The initiative is aimed at easing imports in the event of a sudden departure from the single market and customs union, but fewer than ten per cent of the firms estimated to undergo the scheme had applied for it as of May 26, according to figures published by BBC Newsnight.
Sedwill did, however, say that much of the preparation for a no-deal Brexit “depends on choices made by the private sector and by third parties”.
All three of the leading contenders to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, namely Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, have all declared themselves open to leaving the EU with no-deal.
Johnson has stressed that the option of a no-deal departure must be on the table as a"‘vital tool" in negotiations but is "not aiming" to leave the bloc without a withdrawal agreement being ratified.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove have both said that they would not hesitate in taking the UK out of the EU without a deal if it were the only option in delivering Brexit.