Deloitte "to forfeit government contracts for six months" after Brexit memo leak

Consultancy firm reportedly offers to “put this matter behind us” after coming under fire from Downing Street over memo on exiting the European Union

By Emilio Casalicchio

21 Dec 2016

Consultancy firm Deloitte will reportedly step back from government work for six months after being accused by Downing Street of "touting for business" with a leaked memo on the Brexit process.

According to The Times, Deloitte – whose memo claimed to detail the scale of the  challenge facing the civil service as it readies for the UK's exit from the European Union – offered  itself up for the punishment in order to “put this matter behind us”.

The memo, which also appeared in The Times, said Whitehall was struggling to meet the prime minister's timetable for triggering Brexit and could need to hire 30,000 extra civil servants.

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It also claimed to lift the lid on Cabinet splits and accused May of seeking detail in order to “settle matters herself”, which the paper claims personally affronted the prime minister.

But last night the consultancy firm issued a plan “for working with central government to put this matter behind us”.

It added: “Deloitte regrets the publication of the two-page note, and has apologised for the unintended disruption it caused government.

“The note was for internal audiences and was not a Deloitte point of view.”

The paper claims the firm has agreed not to bid for central government contracts for around six months, and feared that without making such an offer it could have faced a harsher punishment.

Government sources branded the move a “reset” and denied it was a punishment, the paper adds.

Last month Deloitte issued a statement admitting its report was not done at the behest of ministers, as originally suggested, and insisting the memo represented its personal view.

“This was a note intended primarily for internal audiences,” said a spokesperson for the firm, which is frequently contracted to undertake government work.

“It was not commissioned by the Cabinet Office, nor any other government department, and represents a view of the task facing Whitehall.

“This work was conducted without access to No 10 or input from any other government departments.”

May’s spokeswoman said of the memo at the time: “It’s not been commissioned. It’s nothing to do with us.

“It hasn’t been distributed widely across government so it does seem like a firm touting for business now aided by the media.”

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