£2bn cost of Brexit is exorbitant – and that’s just the start

Labour Party

The cost of Brexit has been calculated at around £2 billion according to the think tank The Institute for Government.

It found that *six Whitehall departments will be particularly affected and in the region of 10,000 new roles will be created across the departments to cope with the additional challenges.

The think tank warned that even before the UK officially departs from the EU in March next year some £1.3 billion will have been spent on policy work alone.

The true cost of Brexit can’t be fully calculated until it happens of course, but many of us may recall that in his Autumn statement in 2017, the Chancellor Philip Hammond said that he had shared £250 million between Whitehall departments and that a further £3 billion would be set aside to fund Brexit over the course of the next two years.

Although it hasn’t been specified precisely how the money will be allocated it is expected that Defra will receive a large sum of money to devise a completely new agriculture and fisheries policy.

In addition, the Institute found that some departments such as the Home Office are using 50% more agency staff than it did before the referendum. If it continues using staff at the current levels it will have spent almost £40 million more on agency staff in the current financial year than it did in the year leading up to the referendum.

In many ways the additional allocation of funds shouldn’t come as a big surprise; however, the exorbitant cost of agency staff and consultants (in 2017 DExEU signed a £1.9m contract with McKinsey for just six months of work; and both BEIS and Defra signed £1m contracts with the Boston Consulting Group) is clearly an indication that the government departments are wholly ill equipped to cope with Brexit, and this is even before the UK is set to ‘leave’.

If the departments are reliant on agency staff now, then it is clear; the cost will almost certainly rise, and the budget set aside won’t be enough to cover the cost of experts to help the departments fulfil their obligations. And this is just in relation to the start transition period. We do not know the full cost for the transition period or beyond.

*The six core Brexit ministries are:
1. the Department for Exiting the EU
2. the Department for International Trade
3. the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
4. the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
5. the Home Office
6. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).


Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

There is just one post devoted to the prevention of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Whitehall, and the government has abolished it. Campaigners said the loss of the FGM co-ordinator will undermine efforts to eradicate the practice.

Some 24,000 girls among FGM-practising minority ethnic communities in Britain are estimated to be at risk of the procedure, in which part or all of their genitalia is cut off and stitched up without anaesthetic.

The Home Office insist the work of the FGM coordinator will not end. Rather, it will continue to be carried forward by individual departments where we believe it will be better integrated.

You can read the full story here. I hope that this important role is not diluted into the work of many people and therefore the important subject forgotten about.

And The Times reported last week that almost 100,000 acres of England’s public forests will be sold regardless of the outcome of the independent review of the future of Forestry Commission land, the Government indicated yesterday.

Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, told MPs on the Commons Environment Select Committee that sales of 15 per cent of the 638,000 acres of public forests would go ahead within the next four years to raise £100 million.

Have I missed something here? I had thought the environment secretary agreed not to sell off our forests…? I recall just a month or so ago that the government was forced into an embarrassing u-turn over its decision.

But this u-turn on the u-turn, as it were, seems to have taken place with relative ease. You can read the full story here.

Honeyball’s weekly round up

Jeremy Hunt

Four in ten regret voting Lib Dem. This survey, by pollsters ComRes, exclusively for the Sunday Mirror is without doubt a damming blow for Nick Clegg, as their first party conference kicks off since they formed a coalition government he can expect to face the wrath of many activists unhappy at his new alliance. The Sunday Mirror claims that this latest set of statistics is the worst result of any ComRes poll completed since the election. You can read the full article  here in the Sunday Mirror. 


It will be a difficult time for Clegg as he will undoubtedly be faced with questions from disgruntled party faithful who could never have envisaged their party forming such a close alliance with the Tories. He has an enormous task ahead of him, and that is to appeal to his members to support the coalition government which will, he claims be a “great, great, reforming government.”  The Observer’s political editor has a big piece in today’s paper which you can read here. 

President Sarkozy found himself in hot water once again this week following his decision to deport Roma gypsies from France despite the European Parliament demanding an end to the policy. But there were harsh words between The French President who was angry over comments made by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding who appeared to compare France’s actions to persecutions in Nazi-occupied France. 

He said of her words: “The disgusting and shameful words that were used – World War II, the evocation of the Jews – was something that shocked us deeply.” I did a blog on it earlier in the week which you can read here and you can read the BBC report here

I was disappointed to read in today’s paper that Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has given a civil service post to the daughter of a business associate who, the paper claims, is also a Tory party donor. The move has ‘raised eyebrows’ in Whitehall. She was made his parliamentary assistant in his private office two years ago but in May was given a job within the Department for Culture Media and Sport on a fixed term civil service contract. You can read the full article here in today’s Observer.