Letter backing EU membership circulated by Downing Street not expected to be signed by string of leading FTSE 100 companies as Tories descend into war over Brexit fears – latest updates
Ministers campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union have been banned by Whitehall’s most senior civil servant from accessing official documents and prevented from receiving briefings.
In a move like to enrage Eurosceptics, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet secretary, has told ministers that when they campaign on EU matters they will no longer have access to official briefing papers, or get help with developing ideas for speeches.
Instead departmental officials will only be able to provide them with a basic fact checking service.
In a letter, which has been distributed in Whitehall this morning, Sir Jeremy said: “It will not be appropriate or permissible for the Civil Service to support who oppose the Government’s official position by providing briefing or speech material on this matter.
“This includes access to official departmental papers, excepting papers that ministers have previously seen on issues relating to the referendum question prior to the suspension of the collective agreement.”
He adds: “Departments may check facts for such ministers on request. And civil servants should continue to support such ministers in undertaking all official government business in the usual way.”
The rules from today until May 27, when the official Whitehall purdah period begins.