Cabinet Office recruiting for no deal Brexit contingency staff pool

Department looks to put 50-strong team on standby for Brexit-related crises

Cabinet Office Credit: PA

By Jim.Dunton

13 Dec 2018

The Cabinet Office is drawing together a 50-strong squad of civil servants as a contingency team to manage “fast moving” and “major” events that spring from the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Understood to be part of Whitehall’s planning for a no-deal Brexit, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, the staff will be given training on the workings of the Cobra system for dealing with emergencies.

A job description for the secondments – which are due to run for a minimum of 12 weeks and expected to commence from mid-February, according to the Financial Times – says those selected will be tasked with “troubleshooting and devising creative solutions to difficult issues”.


Further details on the contingency pool suggested that those selected could be required to fit into 24-7 crisis rotas with days split into three shifts.

“Successful candidates will form a pool of staff who can surge in to manage and oversee cross-government response activities to ensure HM government responds effectively to major events,” the specification added.

It said the anticipated support period would continue until late June next year, but could be extended.

It has also been reported that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has advertised 90 new posts for civil servants to staff a EU Exit Emergencies Centre. Staff will be on call and trained in multiple different jobs, according to the Guardian.

The roles include response managers and situation managers to deal with the fallout of a no-deal exit, and staff will be required to “see through the fog”.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the contingency staff pool was part of the government’s detailed preparations for Brexit.

“The civil service remains focused on delivering this government's commitment to leave the EU, and get the very best deal for the UK,” they said.

“To do this, we are equipping ourselves with the right people and skills across government to make this happen."

In October, HM Revenue & Customs chief executive Jon Thompson told MPs that his department would need 5,300 additional staff to cope with a no-deal Brexit.

Last month the Home Office said it was recruiting hundreds of additional Border Force officers in advance of “Brexit Day” on 29 March next year.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics last week suggested that the ranks of the civil service had swelled by 12,000 in the year to September, however others – including the FDA union – have suggested Whitehall is still understaffed to deal with the pressures of Brexit.

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