Britain's highest-ranking civil servant has issued a doomsday analysis of how the country would be affected by a No Deal Brexit.
In a bombshell letter to ministers, extracts of which have been leaked to the Daily Mail, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill says leaving the EU without a deal would hamper the police and security services and lead to the return of direct rule in Northern Ireland.
Sir Mark's 14-page letter, sent ahead of a five-hour Cabinet showdown today, warns:No Deal would result in a 10 per cent spike in food prices and the collapse of some businesses that trade with the EU; The Government would come under pressure to bail out companies on the brink; It would hamper the ability of the police and security services to keep people safe; It would lead to the reintroduction of direct rule in Northern Ireland for the first time since 2007; A recession will hit the UK and the pound's depreciation will be 'more harmful' than in 2008; Our legal authorities and judicial system would be put under 'enormous pressure'.
Extracts from Sir Mark Sedwill's letter to ministers which warns of dire consequences including direct rule in Northern Ireland if Britain leaves with No Deal
Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill (pictured) says leaving the EU without a deal would hamper the police and security services and lead to the return of direct rule in Northern Ireland
Theresa May has summoned her Cabinet for a marathon five-hour meeting in No 10 today to thrash out whether to switch to a soft Brexit, leave without a deal next week or trigger a general election or second referendum.
The session will begin with a three-hour meeting of the 'political Cabinet', during which ministers will discuss the political risks and consequences for the Tory Party.
But Sir Mark's letter warns that No Deal would have wider consequences for the UK's economy, security and constitution.
Sir Mark Sedwill combines roles as both Britain’s top civil servant and Theresa May’s national security adviser.
Last October, he was appointed Cabinet Secretary by the Prime Minister after Lord Heywood retired through ill health.
In an unprecedented move, Mrs May allowed the 54-year-old to retain his existing role as national security adviser.
She cited the Government’s crisis over Brexit to justify installing her long-standing lieutenant without a formal recruitment process. It was unclear if this was a temporary arrangement.
But in February, Sir Mark said his role had been permanently merged with his security brief to help ‘make a success of Brexit’.
Sir Mark was Mrs May’s permanent secretary at the Home Office from 2013 until she entered Downing Street in 2016. Before then his area of expertise had been in foreign policy.
He started his diplomatic career at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1989 and was posted to Egypt, Cyprus and Pakistan before becoming private secretary to foreign secretary Jack Straw be-fore the 2003 Iraq war, and ambassador to Afghanistan in 2009.
It was sent to every member of the Cabinet last week. It is understood ministers asked for