Only around a third of the £1.5billion allocated to ensure the UK’s borders and infrastructure can cope with leaving the EU without a deal has been used, Government insiders say.
At today’s Cabinet meeting, the last of this year, the Prime Minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond are expected to read the riot act to ministers over their failure to use the resources.
Today’s no-deal talks come a day after Mrs May set the timetable for a showdown with MPs over her Brexit deal.
The delayed “Meaningful Vote” will be held in the week beginning January 14.
It also sets a deadline for UK and EU officials to try to hammer out guarantees on the Northern Ireland “backstop” border mechanism.
Yesterday Mrs May said “of course” Britain would be ready to quit the EU without a deal, “and tomorrow the Cabinet will be discussing the next phase in ensuring we are ready for that scenario”.
But she warned: “Let us not risk the jobs, services and security of the people we serve by turning our backs on an agreement with our neighbours that honours the referendum and provides for a smooth and orderly exit.”
A string of Tory MPs urged Mrs May to walk away from the talks.
Backbencher Philip Davies said: “We are not some kind of Third World backwater that is dependent on the benevolence of the EU.
“If she were to go along to the EU now and tell them in the face of their intransigence to get stuffed, a huge proportion of the British people would be absolutely right behind her.”
Mrs May will be given her weekly update today on no-deal Brexit preparations at the Cabinet meeting in Downing Street.
Ministers are expected to discuss an extra £2billion that the Chancellor is due to announce this week.
Around a quarter of the total will go to the Home Office for strengthening the country’s borders and £400million to the Department for Environment to ensure that the farming and fisheries sectors will be ready for a sudden break with Brussels.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s department will get £100million for hiring negotiators in case new trade deals are needed urgently.
But ministers at today’s meeting will also be told that they must now end the foot-dragging and crack on with their no-deal preparations.
Government sources say only £530million out of £1.5billion allocated by the Treasury earlier this year for no-deal preparations has been spent.
And while the Home Office is said to be “on track” with no-deal readiness work, other departments have spent as little as 20 per cent of the cash allocated for Brexit contingency measures.