Downing Street has insisted that Whitehall reports predicting chaos and disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit were outdated, as Boris Johnson dashes to meet EU leaders for last-minute talks next week.
Claims made within the leaked dossier, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, predicted food, fuel and medicine shortages in a no-deal exit.
The document, leaked to the Sunday Times, also said there would be a return of a hard border in Ireland – the main sticking point in the Brexit negotiations – leading to the possibility of civil unrest.
But a Number 10 source said the document pre-dated Boris Johnson’s premiership, when ministers were not seriously preparing for a no-deal Brexit.
“This document is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available,” the source said. “It has been deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders.
“Those obstructing preparation are no longer in government, £2bn of extra funding has already been made available and Whitehall has been stood up to actually do the work through the daily ministerial meetings. The entire posture of government has changed.”
The claims were also played down by Michael Gove, who is now the minister in charge of the government’s no-deal preparations.
He said the UK would experience “bumps in the road” if it leaves the EU without an agreement at the end of October but that government was “far more prepared now than it was in the past”.
The revelations come ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to the continent next week, in a last-dash hope of securing a deal. He will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in Paris.
Merkel said Germany was prepared for a disorderly Brexit but that she would “make an effort to find solutions – up until the last day of negotiations”.
Both meetings precede the G7 summit in Biarritz on Saturday, in which Johnson will make his first international appearance as Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, 100 MPs from across the political divide, including the leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson and Tory rebel Guto Bebb, urged Johnson to recall parliament from summer recess in light of the leaked no-deal Brexit claims.
MPs are due to come back from summer recess on 3 September.