Former chancellor Philip Hammond is demanding an apology from Boris Johnson over the leak of an explosive document setting out the government’s fears of chaos after a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Hammond said he wanted the prime minister to say sorry to all former ministers in Theresa May’s administration, after Downing Street wrongly suggested that one of them was to blame for releasing details of the Operation Yellowhammer document.
The cross-government study warned of months of transport disruption and shortages of food and medicines if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.
Ministers including no-deal preparations supremo Michael Gove attempted to brand the document out-dated, and an anonymous Downing Street source suggested it had been “deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders”.
But it later emerged that the dossier was produced in August, some days after Mr Johnson took over from Ms May in Number 10.
In a furious letter to the PM, Mr Hammond said: “The clear implication was that a minister in the last government had retained and then leaked a copy of this document.
“The media has speculated accordingly on the source of the document.
“It has now become apparent that the leaked document was in fact dated August 2019 and would not therefore have been available to any former minister who is not serving in the current administration.
“Accordingly, I am writing on behalf of all former minister in the last administration to ask you to withdraw these allegations which question our integrity, acknowledge that no former minister could have leaked this document and apologise for the misleading briefing from No 10.”
Mr Hammond has been involved in behind-the-scenes talks with other former members of the so-called “Gaukeward squad” in May’s cabinet to try to find a means of blocking no-deal.