The Department obviously engages closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that local authorities are prepared for EU exit in any scenario. On Wednesday I had an opportunity to meet the mayoral forum, and later today I shall be speaking to the Local Government Association.
Last week I met representatives of Durham County Council, who told me that central Government had not been able to give them any scenarios or planning decisions, and that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had no money whatsoever to help local authorities to plan for contingencies in the event of no deal. Is this no-deal planning a bluff, or is it just a sign of the Government’s sheer incompetence?
I do not think we recognise the way in which the hon. Lady has characterised the Government’s engagement with local authorities. We have recognised the need for much more localised planning. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has established a delivery board and chief executive-level advisory groups. We have held four national conferences, which have been attended by 350 senior local authority officers and 200 councils. There is much more engagement, and means and money, behind our commitment to ensuring that this country is prepared in the event of a no-deal scenario.
Is it the Government’s position that if we need additional time in which to agree a deal that will pass through the House, they will crash out on 29 March rather than extending article 50 and giving us time to negotiate that position?
As I have said many times, the Government’s position is that we will land a deal and ensure that we leave with that deal on 29 March.