Civil servants have been warned they must accelerate preparations for all eventualities – including the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal.
David Davis’ Brexit department is to return a series of Brexit delivery plans to Whitehall mandarins this month.
The Government will then compile monthly “progress reports” to check civil servants are moving fast enough with Brexit planning.
The move comes amid growing concern among Eurosceptic ministers, including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, that Britain has not done enough to prepare for leaving the EU.
While the revelation civil servants will plan for a “no deal” Brexit follows controversy as pro-Remain ministers previously suggested this would not be a priority.
In 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the Government would not prepare for a no deal Brexit until the “last moment”, as Theresa May was focused on being able to negotiate an agreement with the EU.
However in a reversal of this position, civil servants will have to make sure the Government can deliver any kind of Brexit.
A Whitehall source told the Telegraph: “In the New Year the Government is moving from a planning phase to a delivery phase. We will be removing the excuses some departments have for not being ready.
“The intention is to ensure we are ready to deliver Brexit whatever is negotiated in Brussels, and while the chance of a ‘no deal’ scenario has fallen, we will still be prepared.”
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson wrote to Theresa May in November 2017, urging her to ramp up preparations for every Brexit scenario.
They said: ”We are profoundly worried that in some parts of Government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy.
“We have heard it argued by some that we cannot start preparations on the basis of ‘No Deal’ because that would undermine our obligation of ‘sincere co-operation’ with the EU. If taken seriously, that would leave us over a barrel in 2021.”
Although the approach to Brexit so far has been pragmatic, they said, they were concerned that Britain was not preparing for all possible outcomes.
Besides improving planning methods for Brexit, thousands of new civil servants have been hired to work towards leaving he EU.
David Davis recently told the Cabinet 3,000 had been taken on so far, while a further 5,000 are expected to be hired in 2018.