HMRC seeks £140,000 Brexit chief

Written by Beckie Smith on 20 January 2020 in News

DG will oversee input to trade negotiations, job ad says as chancellor promises "no alignment" with EU post-Brexit

Photo: Gary Todd via Flickr

HM Revenue and Customs is looking to hire a £140,000-a-year Brexit chief to contribute to trade negotiations and oversee the department’s work on exiting the EU.

The EU exit director general will lead a newly-formed HMRC group that “brings together the critical EU exit policy and delivery groups into one cohesive unit”, according to a job advert – which went live the same day the chancellor, Sajid Javid, warned businesses there would be "no alignment" between the UK and EU after Brexit.

"There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union – and we will do this by the end of the year," Javid told the Financial Times.


Britain and the EU will have until the end of 2020 – the "transition period" – to decide the nature of their future relationship, after Brexit on 31 January.

HMRC's next Brexit chief will provide input from the department on these negotiations, including detailed advice on customs and tax arrangements to diplomatic and trade officials, the advert said.

“Fundamentally this role will be responsible for delivering the next stages of EU exit for HMRC,” the job ad said. They will be accountable for the border systems and border contingency programmes (including Northern Ireland protocol), as well as the Customs Declaration Service, a much-delayed IT infrastructure project to replace the tax agency’s outdated customs system.

They would also be ultimately responsible for standing up a so-called “command centre” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the job ad said – although they will not be in post until after the UK is due to leave the EU. Applicants close on 9 February, more than a week after the 31 January Brexit deadline.

Applicants must be experienced leaders with experience in policy, programme and portfolio management and have worked on Brexit-related areas before, the job ad said.

They must also have a track record of managing people across “large, complex teams”.

The successful candidate will be charged with “defining and embedding the new organisational structure” and manage four EU exit policy and project delivery directors – who together are accountable for the equivalent of around 1,000 full-time staff.

“The job holder will also be responsible for all their people with a focus on wellbeing and workload which can be put under pressure in the EU exit environment,” the ad said.

The new post is expected to be a high profile one, according to the advert, which said the new DG must have “the resilience to successfully manage high profile public and media scrutiny”.

The job ad was posted as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority announced that Karen Wheeler, formerly one of HMRC’s most senior Brexit officials, would ill become the next chief executive of its waste division.

Wheeler, who stepped down as director general for border coordination last summer, will head up Radioactive Waste Management, the NDA subsidiary responsible for setting up an underground geological disposal facility for radioactive waste.

“The public and private sector experience she brings in major change and infrastructure programmes will be vital as we deliver this multi- billion pound project of national importance on behalf of the British taxpayer,” NDA chief exec David Peattie said. 

Wheeler will replace RWM’s managing director, Bruce McKirdy, on 1 February. McKirdy is retiring.

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Beckie Smith
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Beckie Smith is a reporter for CSW who tweets @Beckie__Smith.

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Gary Todd via Flickr
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