BREXIT planners have accidentally revealed there is “a lot of uncertainty” about the UK’s capacity to patrol fishing waters after a No-Deal exit from the EU.

In an email mistakenly sent to the BBC, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said there are just 12 ships “to monitor a space three times the size of the surface of the UK”.

Defra’s internal email mentioned a number of media stories, including one being worked on by a freelance journalist for The Independent, which reportedly planned to look at the preparation being made to deter EU fishermen from UK waters in the case of a No-Deal Brexit, and also whether the UK will enforce the exclusion of foreign vessels.

The email states that this is something the Government is not “on an overly strong footing” to respond to. However, ministers maintain fishing security will be enforced after the UK leaves the EU.

It reads: “While our public position on this wider issue is already clear and widely communicated, in that post-Brexit we will be an independent coastal state with control of our waters, both policy [officials] and MoD [officials] have indicated we are not on an overly strong footing to get ahead of the

potential claims that could arise from this story. At this stage, there is a lot of uncertainty about the sufficiency of enforcement in a No Deal because we have 12 vessels that need to monitor a space three times the size of the surface area of the UK.”

The revelation could prompt questions about how prepared the UK is to leave without a deal and comes after Boris Johnson wrote to all civil servants calling on them to make planning for No Deal “a top priority”.

In the event of No Deal, the UK would become an independent coastal state and leave the Common Fisheries Policy, which outlines the EU’s rules on how much fish countries can catch and where.

Labour peer and former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West said the email appeared to show that the UK has “insufficient assets to patrol and look after our exclusive economic zone for fisheries and also our territorial seas”.

Barrie Deas, the CEO of the National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO), said that in a No-Deal situation, the UK would automatically become an independent coastal state with the rights and responsibilities that follow. He said there is an obligation under the UN Law of the Sea for countries that share stocks to co-operate.

“So I think there will be a fisheries agreement post-Brexit between the UK and the EU, but on a different basis from the Common Fisheries Policy,” he added.

A spokesperson for the UK Government acknowledged that an internal email about the “veracity and details of media enquiries” had been inadvertently leaked but said they are confident of being able to properly enforce security in UK waters.

The spokesperson said: “Britain is leaving the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

“We are confident that we will have the ships and the expertise we need to properly enforce security in UK waters.”

Meanwhile, Michael Gove has said there will be a government support fund to help British businesses in the event of a No-Deal Brexit. The cabinet minister in charge of preparations for a possible No-Deal Brexit spoke openly about a government support fund for British businesses during a visit to Northern Ireland on Friday.

Coined as Operation Kingfisher, the support package will supposedly help companies deal with any “bumps in the road” that might occur as a result of a No-Deal Brexit.

According to The Times, the Johnson’s government has also compiled a list of companies it believes could be most exposed financially if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

It is said to include a number of firms in the construction and manufacturing sectors.