Downing Street and Abta have strongly disputed a claim that families will be advised not to book holidays after March as part of contingency plans being drawn up for a no-deal Brexit.

They were responding to a Sunday Times front page report suggesting that senior government officials have explored the idea and that the proposed guidance was expected to be discussed at last week’s cancelled Cabinet meeting.

The impact that the advice could have on specific tour operators was reportedly among the discussions, amid fears it might bankrupt them

The article went on to suggest that one option was for the government to cover losses to holiday companies.

Steps are being considered to protect holidaymakers who have yet to book trips, amid fears a no-deal Brexit will see flights grounded and spark chaos at airports and ports, the newspaper reported.

However, Downing Street dismissed the claims with a spokesman telling the Press Association: “This is categorically untrue.”

An Abta spokesperson said: “Number 10 has said that the content of the report in the Sunday Times is categorically untrue.

“The European Commission has said that even in a no-deal scenario, flights will still operate between the UK and EU, and a visa is not required.

“Abta is providing holidaymakers and travellers with advice about Brexit and travel, including on pet passports and driving licences, which can be found at abta.com/brexit.”

A Cruise Lines International Association spokesperson said: “The whole of the travel industry, including the cruise sector, is putting in place myriad contingency plans to deal with the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, to ensure as smooth an experience as possible for our customers.

“To say we were surprised and disappointed to read the story, which is simply not true, in the Sunday Times yesterday is an understatement.

“Comments such as this coming from the government are unhelpful and reckless, and we urge the government to instead focus on clarifying plans for Brexit as speedily as possible.”

The comments came as cabinet tensions intensified over the prospect of a no deal Brexit, and the impact it would have on the economy.

No-deal planning is expected to be top of the agenda when the cabinet meets tomorrow. A paper circulated to ministers has three options on Brexit: no deal, Theresa May’s deal or revoking article 50.

Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, 2019.

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