The government has stood down an army of about 6,000 Brexit staffs who had been planning for a no-deal Brexit, at an estimated cost of close to £1.5bn.
The civil servants who had been seconded from elsewhere will go back to their usual post duties, although there is no clear role for an estimated 4,500 new recruits after article 50 was postponed until Halloween.
About 16,000 civil servants have been working on Brexit.
The Labour party’s Hilary Benn lamented that the price paid was expensive for Theresa May’s belligerent insistence of keeping a no-deal on the table.
“It was important to plan for all contingencies, but this is the huge cost of the prime minister repeatedly saying: ‘My deal or no deal’ when she knew that leaving without a deal was not in the national interest. This is one example of how Brexit is proving to be very costly for our country,” said Benn, chair of the influential Brexit select committee.
The Cabinet Office came to an agreement to reverse the no-deal plans at a meeting on Thursday morning.
“In common with the rest of government, we have stood down our no-deal operational planning with immediate effect. This morning, at a meeting chaired by the cabinet secretary, we agreed that the objective is to ensure we wind down our no-deal planning in a careful, considered and orderly way,” said a letter that was revealed to Sky News.