London – The British government says it expects to have hired up to 8,000 new staff by next year as it steps up preparations for leaving the European Union — with or without an exit agreement.
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Brexit minister David Davis told colleagues that “preparatory work has seen a significant acceleration in recent months,” said Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman.
Departments are drawing up “detailed delivery plans” for around 300 policy areas, each of which “prepares the country for the range of negotiated outcomes and a ‘no deal’ scenario”, the spokesman said.
“The plans set out detailed delivery timelines including, for example, to recruit and train new staff; to design and procure IT systems; and to deliver the necessary legislative and regulatory changes,” he said.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said she was confident of reaching an agreement on future relations with the bloc despite public disagreements over Brexit strategy.
However, the government’s planning includes the possibility that negotiations in Brussels break down and Britain crashes out of the EU in March 2019.
The revenue and customs department expects to recruit 3,000 to 5,000 additional staff next year, as it prepares for new trading arrangements once Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union.
Around 3,000 new posts have already been created across government to work on Brexit, including 300 lawyers.
“These plans are constantly evolving and improving, in order to ensure maximum day-one readiness for Brexit,” the spokesman said.
The government has already announced it had committed £662 million (753 million euros, $877 million) towards preparations for Brexit, including the establishment of two new ministries, and said more would be available where necessary.
The government on Monday published a list of 58 economic sectors for which it has carried out assessments of the impact of Brexit, but once again refused to publish the reports themselves.
In a letter to Seema Malhotra, an opposition Labour lawmaker, the Brexit ministry said policy-making needed to take place in a “safe place to allow for design and deliberation to be done in private”.
The sectors, which together cover around 88 percent of the British economy, run from advertising and agriculture to pharmaceuticals, retail, space and tourism.