Brexit: Government employing up to 8,000 extra civil servants to cope with EU departure

Whitehall departments have taken on 3,000 more staff so far, with up to 5,000 more expected at HMRC

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Tuesday 31 October 2017 19:57 GMT
Brexit Secretary David Davis leaves Downing Street
Brexit Secretary David Davis leaves Downing Street (Getty Images)

The Government has taken on an extra 3,000 civil servants and expects to employ up to 5,000 more next year to cope with the demands of leaving the European Union.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Cabinet on Tuesday the extra staff taken on so far had been employed across Government departments to boost work towards leaving the EU.

The workers taken on next year will be employed by HM Revenue and Customs as the body looks to implement a new border regime on leaving the bloc.

It comes after a period in which Conservative ministers have been single-minded in their efforts to slim down Whitehall departments in the name of a more efficient government.

Mr Davis told colleagues: “Alongside the negotiations in Brussels, it is crucial that we are putting our own domestic preparations in place so that we are ready at the point that we leave the EU.”

Of the 3,000 civil servants already taken on some 300 are lawyers, while between 3,000 and 5,000 will be taken on by HMRC next year, with the eventual number decided on what kind of systems the UK needs after Brexit.

The Cabinet was told by Mr Davis many of the preparations “will be needed even in our preferred scenario of a bold and ambitious deal – for example, implementing either of our proposed customs arrangements will require investment in new systems and customs officers by HMRC.”

Earlier this year Theresa May announced more than £400m for Brexit preparedness including a no-deal scenario, with a further £250m additional funding in 2017/18 later announced.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said: “David Davis has revealed just who benefits from Brexit: lawyers, 300 of them just to help us crash out of the European Union.

“A no deal Brexit should not even be considered, let alone cost us £500m, and probably more by the end of next year.”

It came as Mr Davis admitted in a select committee hearing that the Brexit withdrawal deal would probably favour the European Union in terms of the financial settlement.

The next round of Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU is to take place in Brussels next week, with Mr Davis seeking an “intensification” of negotiations.

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