The British government has no concrete plan for leaving the EU and may need six more months to form a negotiating strategy for Brexit apart from nearly 30,000 extra staff, a leaked memo published today claimed.
The memo, obtained by ‘The Times’, warns that civil servants are working on 500 Brexit-related projects and could need as many as 30,000 extra staff in the wake of the June referendum in favour of an exit from the 28-nation European Union.
“Every department has developed a ‘bottom-up’ plan of what the impact of Brexit could be – and its plan to cope with the ‘worst case’. Although necessary, this falls considerably short of having a ‘government plan for Brexit’ because it has no prioritisation and no link to the overall negotiation strategy,” the memo says.
The document, written by an unnamed consultant, is titled “Brexit Update” of November 7 and claims it will take another six months before the government decides precisely what it wants to achieve from Brexit or agrees on its priorities.
It criticises Prime Minister Theresa May, who it says is “acquiring a reputation of drawing in decisions and details to settle matters herself” – an approach it describes as being “unlikely to be sustainable”.
The document also identifies cabinet splits between UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit secretary David Davis and international trade secretary Liam Fox on one side, and UK chancellor Philip Hammond and business secretary Greg Clark on the other.
The UK government has dismissed the claims of the leaked Cabinet Office memo.
A UK government spokesperson said: “This unsolicited document has nothing to do with the government at all.
“It was produced by an individual from an external accountancy firm. It has no authority and we don’t recognise any of the claims it makes. We are getting on with the job of delivering Brexit and making a success of it.”
It is understood the memo was written by a consultant at the professional services firm Deloitte. It remains unclear as to who commissioned it but no ministers are believed to have seen it so far.
Chris Grayling, UK transport secretary who sits on the government’s Brexit Cabinet Committee, said he had no idea where the report had come from and denied it had been commissioned by ministers.
“The process is complex but by no means the challenge that is set out in today’s newspaper story. I have a team of people in my department who are working with David Davis on issues like aviation, but I do not see the scale of the challenge that is in today’s newspaper,” he told BBC.
The note follows a string of recent leaks highlighting dissent among senior figures about how May should approach Brexit. May has promised to start the process of leaving the EU by the end of March next year.