Philip Hammond, the British chancellor, has defended spending billions of pounds as part of the preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
The UK chancellor made his case following the revelation of Sky News that the government was mothballing the team of civil servants that are responsible for no-deal planning.
Over the last two years, the government of the United Kingdom had moved thousands of civil servants away from their normal jobs in order to prepare for the possibility that Britain would leave the European Union without a deal.
In an interview with Sky News, Hammond stated: “It would have been irresponsible not to prepare for no deal, so long as it was a real possible outcome.”
He added: “Making preparations for events that we hope will not happen is an everyday part of government.”
He noted: “Just to be clear about this – we spent £4bn so far on preparing for Brexit, but that is not just for a no-deal Brexit – much of that money would need to be spent anyway, putting in place systems to replace EU systems that we’ve been using up to now.”
Sky News believes that the civil servants will be returned to their home departments gradually after the Easter break, however, those working on no-deal contingencies were commanded to leave their work in good order should it be necessary to have it resumed.
Hammond was speaking in Washington DC where he was attending meetings at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
His remarks came after the United Kingdom was given until the 31st of October to leave the European Union, a deadline that had supposedly been tonight.
However, Hammond refused to rule out the possibility that the United Kingdom will face the same risk of leaving without a deal when the deadline arrives on October.
He stated: “Unfortunately parliament’s clarity on that issue has not been matched by clarity about what kind of deal we should have in order to ensure that we don’t have no deal.”
He added: “What we’ve got to do now, through the discussions we are having with the Labour Party, is find a way forward that allows us to find a deal that works for Britain, allows us to deliver Brexit, and allows us to protect the economy and British jobs.”
Yesterday, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the the IMF, said that the the delay to Brexit had helped avoid a “terrible outcome” that would have snowballed across an already fragile global economy.
Lagarde said to a news conference: “It gives time for continued discussions between the various parties involved in the UK.”