As Theresa May desperately tries to rescue her Brexit deal, it has emerged that Government departments have halted their usual business to focus attention on preparing for the UK’s imminent exit from the European Union.
Sir Mark Sedwill, the head of the Civil Service, admitted yesterday that some had “paused” some of their domestic policy agenda, as they turned their attention to planning for March 29.
While any form of transition undoubtedly requires meticulous preparation, it is concerning that Brexit is not only causing political turmoil in Parliament, but is also now creating a logjam, with other important day-to-day work going out of the window. And this is not the only matter on which Brexit has impacted.
Last week, the announcement of the provisional local government finance settlement was delayed to make way for the Parliamentary debates on leaving the EU – only for the Prime Minister to then call off Tuesday’s ‘meaningful vote’ on her withdrawal agreement. It was not until yesterday that the funding arrangement was revealed.
It is not unreasonable for time to be spent preparing for Brexit; whether there will be a deal or no deal is still unclear but planning for each outcome provides the best prospect for minimal disruption.
After all, the major changes it will bring will impact not only on the economy, but on almost every Government department too, making effective preparation vital.
But Sir Mark’s worrying revelations underline how crucial it is that a clear way forward is determined as soon as possible, before the country is paralysed by trying to plan for each Brexit scenario; particularly given, as he points out: “We don’t have complete control over the circumstances that would pertain in the event of leaving without a deal...There are things that no government can control.” Quite.