17/01/2019 23:52 GMT | Updated 18/01/2019 08:52 GMT

Whitehall Chiefs 'Told To Prepare For Snap General Election' Over Brexit Deadlock

It comes just two days after government faced a confidence vote.

Whitehall chiefs have been ordered to draw up contingency plans for a snap General Election, it has been reported.

With parliament in a state of deadlock over Brexit, head of the civil service Sir Mark Sedwill met with government department heads this week to make sure they were ready for the possibility of an unexpected poll, according to the Daily Mail.

The news comes just two days Theresa May and her government saw off a confidence motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn, winning the vote 325 to 306, which have triggered a public vote.

But the paper reported that officials have started to look at what must be done if there is an election, including seeing through final pieces of legislation before parliament is dissolved for the vote.

The claims were downplayed by the Cabinet Office, with a spokesperson telling reporters that Sedwill “frequently meets with permanent secretaries to discuss a wide range of issues”.

Meanwhile, a government briefing document shared with opposition MPs on Thursday suggested a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit could not be held within the next year.

Civil servants were ordered to compile the paper for talks between Theresa May and opposition MPs after her Brexit deal was spectacularly voted down by parliament earlier this week.  

The document said legislating for and organising a second referendum would take “in excess of a year”.

But the Electoral Commission, the independent body which regulates elections, said the government had not yet approached them.