Whitehall to get £3bn for Brexit planning

22 Nov 17

The UK will set aside £3bn over the next two years to help Whitehall prepare for “every possible outcome” of Brexit, the chancellor announced in his Budget speech today.

Philip Hammond said the EU negotiations are in “a critical phase” and will be a priority of the government over the coming weeks as the UK and the EU aim to agree on a ‘divorce’ deal.

“We have already invested almost £700m in Brexit preparations and today I am setting aside over the next two years a further £3bn,” Hammond said at the beginning of his statement to the Commons.

He added that he was prepared to allocate more cash as and when needed as Brexit proceeds and would replace European investment fund money if necessary.

“But this Budget is about much more than Brexit”, he said, adding that he had a clear vision of what a “global Britain” would look like, with a prosperous and inclusive economy, for which he intends to build the foundations.

The chancellor said the UK needed “to run towards change”, investing in the future rather than looking backwards.

Responding to the announcement, the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, said the absence of any announcement of civil service pay “beggars belief”.

Assistant general secretary Naomi Cook said: “£3bn of new money for Brexit preparation is to be welcomed but with the civil service at the heart of that preparation the lack of investment in the talent and hard work of civil servants is telling.

“With Brexit front and centre, the civil service is delivering the most challenging government agenda in generations after losing a quarter of its most experienced staff.

“Departments must be given the funds and flexibility for a proper pay rise for civil servants, otherwise the cost of this short sightedness will affect the nation for generations.”

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