Chancellor Philip Hammond is refusing to spend £27bn earmarked as a Brexit contingency fund as part of the Budget, saying there is no extra cash for spending initiatives.
The Financial Times reports Hammond has told MPs: “There is no pot of money under my desk”.
The Chancellor has set aside £27bn to give “room for manoeuvre” if the economy is seen to be hit during the next two years of Brexit negotiations.
But because of the uncertainty posed by the talks, Hammond is said to be standing firm before deploying the Brexit reserves.
He has told MPs he expects a calm reaction from markets when Article 50 is triggered next month, though there may be market jitters later on.
One Government official told the newspaper: “The people we speak to in the markets are not expecting an ‘Oh my God moment’ around Article 50.
“The bigger issue is likely to be when we get ‘noises off’ during the negotiating process.”