UK gov’t re­jects re­port of no blueprint for Brexit

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS -

THE UNITED King­dom gov­ern­ment on Tues­day re­jected a leaked re­port claim­ing it has no co­her­ent plan for leav­ing the Euro­pean Union and may need to hire up to 30,000 civil ser­vants to com­plete the coun­try’s exit from the 28-na­tion bloc.

The Times of Lon­don news­pa­per pub­lished a memo pre­pared by a con­sul­tant to the Cabi­net Of­fice claim­ing splits within Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s team have de­layed de­vel­op­ment of a ne­go­ti­at­ing strat­egy and that it may take an­other six months to come up with a plan.

The prime min­is­ter’s of­fice said “this is not a gov­ern­ment re­port and we don’t recog­nise the claims made in it”.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling told Sky News that “I haven’t seen any ev­i­dence of the kind of splits dis­cussed” in the leaked doc­u­ment, which the gov­ern­ment said was pro­duced by an in­di­vid­ual from an ac­coun­tancy firm – iden­ti­fied in me­dia re­ports as Deloitte. Deloitte had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

The Times said the memo was writ­ten by a con­sul­tant on his own ini­tia­tive, not at gov­ern­ment re­quest.

The gov­ern­ment says it will trig­ger two years of for­mal exit talks with the EU by March 31.

The memo, dated Novem­ber 7 and ti­tled ‘Brexit up­date’, says that “de­spite ex­tended de­bate among per­ma­nent sec­re­taries, no com­mon strat­egy has emerged”.

DE­CI­SIONS AND DE­TAILS

It says this is partly be­cause May is “draw­ing in de­ci­sions and de­tails to set­tle mat­ters her­self”.

The doc­u­ment says in­di­vid­ual de­part­ments are work­ing on projects re­lated to Bri­tain’s exit – 500 in all. It says “ev­ery de­part­ment has de­vel­oped a ‘bot­tom up’ plan of what the im­pact of Brexit could be,” but “there is no pri­ori­ti­sa­tion and no link to the over­all ne­go­ti­a­tion strat­egy”.

The memo says May’s gov­ern­ment has lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of Brexit’s im­pli­ca­tions for in­dus­try, and “the gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­ity re­mains its po­lit­i­cal sur­vival, not the econ­omy”

“It may be six months be­fore UK Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

there is a view on pri­or­i­ties/ne­go­ti­a­tion strat­egy as the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the UK and the EU evolves,” the memo says.

May took of­fice in July, af­ter Bri­tons voted to leave the EU. She had cam­paigned to stay in, but has promised she will de­liver on vot­ers’ de­ci­sion to leave. Her Cabi­net con­tains both ‘Re­main’ back­ers like Trea­sury Chief Philip Ham­mond and ‘Leave’ sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son.

The gov­ern­ment has de­clined to say what sort of deal Bri­tain will seek with the EU – in­clud­ing whether it will try to keep Bri­tain in the bloc’s sin­gle mar­ket for goods and ser­vices, some­thing many Bri­tish busi­nesses de­sire.

Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the op­po­si­tion Labour Party, said the memo was right to say min­is­ters “are in a mess over Brexit and do not have a plan”.

“Brexit is the most im­por­tant is­sue fac­ing Bri­tain for gen­er­a­tions and it is sim­ply not good enough for the gov­ern­ment to give mixed mes­sages and cause un­nec­es­sary con­fu­sion,” he said.

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