Planning for Brexit is set to cost the government £65m a year and will require at least 500 extra civil servants, a Whitehall-watching think tank has concluded.
The Institute for Government (IFG) said "time and energy is being wasted on political squabbles and turf wars", and added politicians had no idea how their departments and the civil service machine will be able to handle the strenuous task of pulling the UK out of the EU.
Assessing the cost of setting up the two new Brexit-oriented government outfits – the Department for Exiting the EU, headed up by David Davis, and the Department for International Trade, led by Liam Fox – the IFG concluded staff costs alone will cost a total of £65m.
It added: "These are the additional staff that will be required simply to plan the government’s approach to Brexit – more will be required to undertake negotiations and deal with the consequences of leaving."
The cost of Brexit
The £65m planning costs of getting ready to leave the EU is equivalent to:
£1 per person
The UK's population is estimated to be 65.2m, meaning the Whitehall preparations will cost 99.7p per person. Think about that next time you step into Poundland.
£3.73 per Leave voter
Since it might be a little bit unfair to ask those who voted to stay in the EU to stump up the administrative costs, perhaps the 17.4m Leave voters might feel like contributing some of the costs for their Remain-backing neighbours. Such generosity would cost them £3.73 each – about the same as a large-ish Chai Creme Frapuccino from your favourite high street coffee chain.
No win, no fee after all.
£4.03 per Remain voter
Or, perhaps you think the losers should carry the cost? In which case, the 16.1m Remainers would be looking at a bill of just over £4 each in order to pay for something they didn't want.
To the victor go the spoils.
31 hours of EU membership
Of course, £65m a year is a snip compared to our £350m per week contribution to the European Union (remember that one?). In fact, assuming we formally left the EU at midnight on 1st January 2019, the costs will have been recouped by the time the New Year's Eve hangover wears off.
58 hours of actual EU membership
Even taking the actual, less-disputed and statistically-secure figure of the UK's net contribution to the EU – around £190m a week according to the Office for National Statistics – it would still take under three days to get the planning costs back in saved membership fees.
15p per EU citizen
Maybe Theresa May will have a touch of the Donald Trumps come over her and try to quit the EU and then make the EU pay for it.
In which case it would cost each of the 443 million citizens of the other 27 countries just 15p, or, for those in the Eurozone 17.4 cents. Given you get quite a few more pounds for your euros these days, we could even round it up to 18 cents and book a cool €2.7m profit.
774 years of Nigel Farage
Chief EU-tormentor and Brexit-agitator Nigel Farage has built his political career on campaigning to leave the EU. If the former Ukip leader feels like stumping up the costs to make sure the planning goes smoothly, he'd need to hold down his £84,000 a year job as a member of the European Parliament (MEP) for a grand total of 774 years.
Sorry, Europe. He might be staying a bit longer.