Whitehall is ramping up its preparation for a no deal Brexit. Two-thirds of the staff within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have been redeployed to work on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU without an agreement, a Freedom of Information request by The Guardian has uncovered.

Whitehall is ramping up its preparation for a no deal Brexit. Two-thirds of the staff within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have been redeployed to work on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU without an agreement, a Freedom of Information request by The Guardian has uncovered.

Parliament has pledged to thwart this outcome.

One way out would be a general election. The convening of a political cabinet on Tuesday suggested this was discussed; Whitehall protocol dictates it cannot be discussed when civil servants are in attendance.

Analysis of recent opinion polls shows the Conservatives would emerge as the biggest single party. However, they would lose seats to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. Between them, the three opposition parties could muster a majority under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

But Labour’s competency as a potential government took a knock with the botched announcement of its plans to nationalise National Grid. It said a Corbyn speech on 28 March would spell out the details, but this was cancelled due to uncertainty in the parliamentary timetable. Somebody wasn’t told in the BBC though, which ran an article that resulted in a fall in National Grid’s share price.

No doubt those in Corbyn’s inner circle will shed few tears for the company’s ­shareholders. But the incident will raise questions about whether Labour can be trusted to run utilities if it can’t even successfully organise a press announcement.

Parliament has pledged to thwart this outcome.

One way out would be a general election. The convening of a political cabinet on Tuesday suggested this was discussed; Whitehall protocol dictates it cannot be discussed when civil servants are in attendance.

Analysis of recent opinion polls shows the Conservatives would emerge as the biggest single party. However, they would lose seats to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. Between them, the three opposition parties could muster a majority under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

But Labour’s competency as a potential government took a knock with the botched announcement of its plans to nationalise National Grid. It said a Corbyn speech on 28 March would spell out the details, but this was cancelled due to uncertainty in the parliamentary timetable. Somebody wasn’t told in the BBC though, which ran an article that resulted in a fall in National Grid’s share price.

No doubt those in Corbyn’s inner circle will shed few tears for the company’s ­shareholders. But the incident will raise questions about whether Labour can be trusted to run utilities if it can’t even successfully organise a press announcement.