Boris Johnson has been been slapped down by David Davis’ Brexit department for claiming the government had “no plan” for what to do should the UK fail to secure an exit deal with the EU.
The foreign secretary’s comment on July 11 appeared to directly contradict reassurances made by Davis, the Brexit secretary, that contingency planning was underway.
Johnson told the House of Commons last month: “There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal”.
But Steve Baker, a minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), today said what Johnson had told MPs was wrong.
In a letter to Labour MP Chuka Umunna seen by HuffPost UK, Baker said: “In relation to the ‘no deal’ scenario, any responsible government would prepare for a range of possible outcomes from the negotiation, and this is what we are doing.
“The Department for Exiting the EU is working with every department and building a detailed understanding of how withdrawal affects domestic policies.
“This will ensure that departments are prepared both for a negotiated settlement but also for the unlikely scenario in which no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.”
Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, had written to Theresa May to demand clarification about whether there was a plan for no deal or not.
He said today: “It seems that Boris’ claim that the government has no plans for a Brexit with no deal was – to use a word he would understand – codswallop.
“This is just another example of ministers contradicting each other over vital details of our exit from the European Union. When the foreign secretary apparently has no idea what the Brexit department is doing, how can we expect him to be capable of negotiating for Britain on the world stage?
“The foreign secretary needs to make clear to MPs that his statement on 11th July was incorrect.
“Instead, he and David Davis should be open with Parliament and the public about what their plan for a no-deal Brexit is, and what they think it would cost the British economy in lower trade and fewer jobs.”
The prime minister repeatedly said during the election campaign that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.