According to a leaked memo from the cabinet office, the Government is overwhelmed by the amount of work that is needed to withdraw from the UK from the European Union (EU).
The note leaked to The Times, said to be dated 7 November 2016 and titled “Brexit Update”, slams May’s willingness to “draw in decisions and settle matters herself” a strategy that will split her own government between ministers in charge of ending Britain’s membership of the EU.
The note claimed that there is no “common strategy” for Brexit between departments despite extended debates between ministers.
In addition, the note explained that “major industry players” were expected to point a gun to the British government’s head to get what they want and keep their businesses in UK.
But the note also suggests that the Government will need to hire an extra of 30,000 civil servants to deal with the additional work.
It is understood that the note was written by a consultant working for Deloitte.
The unknown author of the note also stated that if each department had come up with a “bottom-up” of Brexit’s possible impacts, it doesn’t mean that the PM has a Brexit plan yet.
“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 author warned.
Government in denial?
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that the note did not belong to the government and he had “no idea” where it came from.
“The process is complex but by no means the challenge that is set out in today’s newspaper story” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“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”.
Asked if it was true that the government needed to hire 30,000 civil servants to cope with the pressure of Brexit, Grayling said:
“I have not seen anything to suggest that is the case. We have got people in my department [and] in other departments working with the Brexit department. I don’t know what 30,000 extra people would do”.
A government spokesman also denied the existence of the memo, and said:
“This is not a government report and we don’t recognise the claims made in it. We are focused on getting on with the job of delivering Brexit and making a success of it”.
Even if it is to be believed that the note wasn’t commissioned by any ministers, the revelations came after a series of other leaked documents and revelations from the hearth of Downing Street that suggest the government is divided on the Brexit strategy, and no plan have been drawn yet.
The PM may have promised to start negotiating with the EU in March 2017; however, she has so far refused to explain what her strategy would be.
If confirmed, this note suggests that the PM has no real Brexit plan, hence her refusal to get parliament involved.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell branded the government’s approach as “shambolic”. He believes that Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond is “too weak” to make a success of Brexit.
The leaked note describes the shambles at the heart of government over the direction of Brexit. And May’s shambolic approach of Brexit could be devastating for the British economy. It is time that the PM starts working on what Brexit actually means.