Government promises Defra millions for Brexit preparations

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (Photo: Chatham House)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (Photo: Chatham House)

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised the government's agricultural department will receive millions to help ready for Brexit.

As it stands, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is one of the most inflicted departments when it comes to untying itself out of EU law.

However, Mrs May told the House of Commons on Wednesday (11 October) during Prime Minister's Questions that Defra can expect millions to stabilise it.

Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford, asked Mrs May whether she had plans to leave the EU with no trade deal in place.

The PM replied: “We are preparing for every eventuality. We are committing money to prepare for Brexit, including a no-deal scenario.

“The Treasury has committed over £250 million of new money to departments such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Home Office, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Department for Transport in this financial year for Brexit preparations.

“In some cases, departments will need to spend money before the relevant legislation has gone through the House. Where money needs to be spent, it will be spent.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told the Treasury Select Committee funds would not be handed over until “the very last moment” – despite the fact £250million has already been set aside.

Writing in The Times, Mr Hammond sought to re-assure critics that government is prepared for the eventuality that negotiations on exiting the EU end without a deal.

“The government and the Treasury are prepared. We are planning for every outcome and we will find any necessary funding and we will spend it only when it’s responsible to do so,” he wrote.

It comes as news that Mrs May has cautioned the British public to prepare for a 'no deal' scenario when leaving the EU.

The news has spooked the farming industry, which relies heavily on trade with Europe and migrant labour.