David Davis tells Cabinet about accelerated Brexit preparations, including hiring up to 5,000 more staff for HMRC

Catherine Neilan
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Brexit secretary David Davis has told Cabinet colleagues the government has made "significant acceleration" in its preparations for the period after leaving the EU.

Davis told colleagues this morning that the Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU) was ramping up plans for all eventualities, including "our preferred scenario of a bold and ambitious deal", a Downing Street spokesman confirmed today.

Departments are preparing "detailed delivery plans" for each of the 300 programmes under way across government, with each plan setting out detailed delivery timelines on areas such as recruiting and training new staff, designing and procuring IT systems and making legislative and regulatory changes. DexEU and the Cabinet office are closely monitoring these plans.

Prime Minister Theresa May has also said that "to support the intensification of our domestic preparations", a new EU Exit and Trade sub committee is being created. Chaired by the First Secretary, it will focus on domestic preparedness, legislation, and devolution.

During the same update, Davis confirmed that HMRC will require up to 5,000 additional members of staff next year to cope with the additional demands of Brexit, the spokesman said.

That comes on top of 3000 extra staff Whitehall has already recruited, which includes 300 Brexit lawyers alone.

Last week HMRC boss John Thompson said 3-5,000 additional staff members would be required to deal with the workload. He noted that the department has already been given £78m from the £250m set aside for contingency planning, but Thompson said he was likely to ask for “significantly more” next year.

He told Public Accounts Committee: “It will be several hundred million pounds if we are implementing the option of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union with no ongoing special relationship in April 2019.

“That is the most extreme version, I think, of leaving the European Union. In that scenario you are looking at an estimate of between £300-£450m.”

Davis is due to appear before a Lords committee later this afternoon.

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