Crack squad of civil ser­vants to han­dle Brexit

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Christo­pher Hope CHIEF PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

A NEW civil ser­vice unit led by Oliver Letwin, a Cabi­net Of­fice min­is­ter, has been es­tab­lished to pre­pare the way for ne­go­ti­a­tions on Bri­tain’s with­drawal from the Euro­pean Union.

The cre­ation of the new team was ap­proved by an emer­gency Cabi­net meet­ing called to as­sess the fall­out from Fri­day’s shock ref­er­en­dum vote to leave the EU.

Mr Cameron told min­is­te­rial col­leagues that the ref­er­en­dum ver­dict had been de­ci­sive and that the Gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­ity must now be to de­liver on it.

The unit will fea­ture civil ser­vants drawn from the Cabi­net Of­fice, Trea­sury, For­eign Of­fice and other White­hall depart­ments.

Num­ber 10 said it will “work on the is­sues that will need to be worked through in or­der to present op­tions and ad­vice for the new prime min­is­ter and new Cabi­net”.

The spokesman added that “Oliver Letwin will play a fa­cil­i­ta­tive role hear­ing views from across the gov­ern­ment and out­side on is­sues that need to be con­sid­ered by the new unit”.

Mr Letwin is a se­nior Cabi­net Of­fice min­is­ter who is asked by Mr Cameron to set­tle rows about con­tested pol­icy ar­eas, no­tably how to im­ple­ment the find­ings of the Leve­son re­port into the me­dia. Speak­ing in the House of Com­mons, Mr Cameron said that de­cou­pling the UK from the EU would be a “mas­sive na­tional en­deav­our” for the civil ser­vice. He said that the unit would have ad­vis­ing it “the best and bright­est from the civil ser­vice”, adding “it is also im­por­tant that we get the best and bright­est from the pri­vate sec­tor whether it is lawyers, fi­nan­cial or trade ex­perts”.

He said: “We want all of this ex­per­tise to come for­ward in what is go­ing to be a mas­sive na­tional en­deav­our.”

Al­though the Trea­sury has worked with the Bank of Eng­land and the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity to plan for the im­me­di­ate eco­nomic im­pact of a Brexit vote, Down­ing Street re­it­er­ated that the civil ser­vice had not done sep­a­rate con­tin­gency work for the wider process of with­drawal.

Lord Ker­slake, the head of the Civil Ser­vice from 2011 to 2014, has warned that min­is­ters may need to “fun­da­men­tally” re­think the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy of cut­ting civil ser­vice num­bers so that of­fi­cials can deal with the chal­lenge of Bri­tain’s with­drawal from the Euro­pean Union. The peer told Civil Ser­vice

World mag­a­zine there could be ca­pa­bil­ity gaps at the For­eign Of­fice, Cabi­net Of­fice, the Trea­sury and the Depart­ment for Busi­ness, Innovation and Skills to han­dle the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Oliver Letwin has set­tled con­tested pol­icy ar­eas such as the Leve­son re­port

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