Brexit has already cost the Government £250 million this year

Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street (Reuters/Peter Nicholls)
Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street (Reuters/Peter Nicholls)

The Government has spent £250 million this year on departments affected by Brexit, Theresa May has said.

The Prime Minister explained during Prime Minister’s Questions that the sum had been allocated to a number of government departments this financial year.

She said: ‘We are committing money to prepare for Brexit including a ‘no deal’ scenario.

‘And it might be helpful if I update the House: the Treasury has committed over £250 million of new money to departments like Defra, Home Office, HMRC and DfT in this financial year for Brexit preparations and in some cases, departments will need to spend money before the relevant legislation has gone through the House.

‘And I can tell the House that the Treasury will write to departments and to the Public Accounts Committee explaining this process shortly.

‘So where money needs to be spent, it will be spent.’

Mrs May did not say how the ‘new money’ would be raised, a point picked up by Labour MP for Hornsey & Wood Green Catherine West on Twitter.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said earlier today that taxpayers’ money would not be spent on preparations for a Brexit ‘no-deal’ until ‘the very last moment’.

He told the Commons Treasury Committee there was a ‘need for speed’ from the remaining 27 EU member states, amid growing signs that the deadlock in negotiations will not be broken at next week’s summit in Brussels.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (Reuters/Toby Melville)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (Reuters/Toby Melville)

Mr Hammond told MPs that the Government was preparing for a no-deal scenario but would not spend any money before strictly necessary.

He said: ‘We have to consider the possibility of a bad-tempered breakdown in negotiations where we have non-cooperation, or a worst-case scenario where people are not necessarily acting in their own economic self-interest.

‘The commitment we have made is that we will be ready with the necessary minimum structures to operate the system on day one.

‘Will everything we ever need be there on day one? Definitely it won’t. It will build over time.

Mr Hammond said the Government must wait until the ‘last point’ before spending on facilities and staff for a hard customs border which might not eventually be needed, because it would involve diverting cash from priorities like the NHS, social care and education.