The government is about to start stockpiling processed food in case the country is plunged into chaos by a “no deal” Brexit.
Ministers came up with the plan after Theresa May allowed planning for a total break to begin – and as the resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davis threw more doubt on her ability to pull off a deal.
The vast majority of processed food and drinks in Britain are imported, with 97 per cent arriving from the European Union.
A stockpile is intended to prevent empty shelves in a situation where customs arrangements change dramatically and overnight.
Around 400,000 people are employed in jobs related to the processed foods industry in the UK.
The imports are worth £22 billion annually.
The food plan is one of 300 contingency measures that will be revealed in the next few weeks as part of a Brexiteer plan to show Brussels that “plan B” is a serious option, the Sun reported.
Downing Street told the paper “no deal preparation work is to be stepped up”.
Dominic Raab, who replaced Mr Davis as Brexit secretary after his resignation, will take charge of the plans.
It was revealed last week a unit had been set up in the Cabinet Office to deal with the complex issues that could arise.
It is reportedly focused on plans for the border in the case of a swift change.
Other departments have also been handed budgets to get plans in place.
NHS England boss Simon Stevens revealed earlier this month that “extensive” plans have been put in place to make sure the health service keeps running in a no-deal scenario, while justice minister Lucy Frazer said in Parliament that preparations were underway.
“Like all competent government departments, we are also working to ensure that if there is no deal we are ready for it,” she said. “We have £17.3 million extra from the Treasury to look into and ensure that we have the right Brexit scenario.”