Gavin Williamson says that while the military hasn't had a formal request to help, "what we will do is have 3,500 service personnel held at readiness — including regulars and reserves — in order to support any government department on any contingencies they may need."
The comments came as Britain's Cabinet stepped up preparations for the possibility of a disorderly Brexit. With 14 weeks to go before Britain's departure from the bloc, it remains unclear whether the country will leave with a deal or crash out without one — an outcome that risks touching off gridlock at ports and shortages of goods.
The British government has decided to ramp up preparations for a "no-deal" Brexit, saying it must be ready for the possibility of that default option.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay says that while the government remains committed to Prime Minister Theresa May's deal, it needs to be ready in the event it does not come to pass.
Following a Cabinet meeting, Barclay said preparations for a disorderly Brexit need to be "much more of a priority for businesses up and down the country."
He says with just over 100 days until the March 29 official Brexit date, "a responsible government is preparing for the eventuality that we leave without a deal."
The British Cabinet was meeting Tuesday to discuss ramping up preparations for Britain's departure from the European Union without a deal, after Prime Minister Theresa May postponed Parliament's vote on her divorce agreement until mid-January.
The discussions are expected to center on how 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in government funding to absorb the potential economic chaos is to be allocated.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire told the BBC that May's government had been taking the prospect of no deal seriously for some time, but that it was "right and proper" to prepare for a disorderly Brexit.
But May's Cabinet is divided between Brexiteers who think a no-deal departure could be managed to ease the economic shock and more pro-EU lawmakers who say no-deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs.
Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit