Leeds will play a key role in Britain’s withdrawal from the EU by hosting an office for hundreds of officials dealing with Brexit, it has emerged.
The Government has paid Bradford furniture manufacturer Flexiform £700,000 to deliver 1,000 lockers, 700 chairs and 700 desks to HM Revenue and Customs’ office in Wellington Place by December 5.
The contract, for the work, first unearthed by Politico, states: “If furniture is not provided for this increased demand HMRC will be unable to support essential delivery of the UK’s exit from the EU.”
HMRC has previously said it needs up to 5,000 extra staff to cope with Brexit.
They are likely to focus primarily on delivering new methods for monitoring goods crossing the border and collecting duties if Britain leaves the EU customs union as promised.
They could play a key role in preparing for Theresa May’s controversial backstop plan to keep the Irish border open, with the Prime Minister envisaging a temporary customs union with the EU for the whole of the UK.
If there is no deal, staff will have to ensure new customs procedures are in place by March 29.
The contract states: “To deliver Brexit, HMRC will need to increase overall headcount to prepare for and carry out extra work related to Brexit.
“This in turn will mean that estate needs to be found on either a temporary or permanent basis to accommodate the staff increase.
Capacity has been identified to accommodate up to 3,980 staff by the end of 2018/19 against a peak Brexit demand in 2018/19 of circa 5,000.”
It will form part of a new hub which will see 6,000 civil servants working in the city centre.
HMRC said: “We have said we will need up to 5,000 additional staff across the country to work on the UK’s exit from the EU.
“Naturally these teams will need places to sit, work and collaborate.”