Brexit poses 'existential threat' to Whitehall departments

Posted On: 
16th November 2016

Government departments face an “existential threat” from Brexit unless Chancellor Philip Hammond boosts them with more resources, a leading thinktank has suggested.

The IFG warned Theresa May that "silence is not strategy" on Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

In a new report the Institute for Government (IFG) warned that Whitehall does not “have the capacity to deliver Brexit on top of everything else to which it is already committed”.

It also raised concerns that Theresa May's “secretive approach” could hinder the process of Leaving the EU, and highlighted the “chaotic and dysfunctional” perception of the plan.

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The IFG said the process of Brexit would be unsustainable for some Whitehall departments unless extra resources were allocated by Mr Hammond at this month's Autumn Statement.

It quoted a source as saying departments faced an "existential threat" due to the impending workload of Brexit.

An IFG researcher wrote: “Whitehall has most of the technical skills required to deliver Brexit. What Whitehall does not have is the capacity to deliver Brexit on top of everything else to which it is already committed.”

Turning to the Prime Minister's approach, the report added: “Silence is not a strategy.

“Failure to reveal the Government’s plan to reach a negotiating position is eroding confidence among business and investors, and encouraging unhelpful speculation about what the final destination might be.”

The report appears to echo a memo leaked yesterday from advisory firm Deloitte, which claimed Mrs May's plan for Brexit is in chaos.

The memo, which appeared in The Times, said Whitehall was struggling to meet the Prime Minister's timetable for triggering Brexit and could need to hire 30,000 extra civil servants.

But the Government insisted it knew nothing of the report and Deloitte was later forced to clarify that it had not been prepared for or with the assistance of government.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times claims the EU's Brexit negotiators want a draft withdrawal deal by mid-2018, including an exit bill of up to €60bn.