DExEU to produce monthly progress updates on Brexit planning – report

Whitehall departments to be told there are ‘no excuses’ for lack of Brexit preparation


By Richard Johnstone

02 Jan 2018

Whitehall departments will this month be told to shift from planning to implementation of Brexit policies, with the Department for Exiting the European Union set to produce progress reports to ensure departments are up to speed.

A team of 100 officials at DExEU will this month tell departments to move to implementation of Brexit priorities, and monitor progress as part of a shift to intensify cross-government work, according to the Telegraph.


According to the paper, this shift is intended to ensure that the civil service is ready to deliver Brexit, including if the talks between the UK and the European Union over the exit agreement and future relationship fail. A Whitehall source is quoted in the paper saying that while the chance of "no deal" has fallen following agreement in the first phase of the exit talks, the government will still need to be prepared for no deal.

“In the new year the government is moving from a planning phase to a delivery phase. We will be removing the excuses some departments have for not being ready,” the source said.

Monthly progress reports will ensure departments are implementing their plans, according to the report. A new UK trade and customs regime will be needed following Britain's departure from the EU, as well as more than 20 new public bodies to carry out regulatory and other governmental functions that are currently carried out at the European level.

The report came after DExEU was forced to deny that Davis had been sidelined in negotiations with the European Union, after a report in The Times claimed that the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier was negotiating directly with the prime minister’s chief Brexit advisor and former DExEU perm sec Oliver Robbins.

Robbins was moved from DExEU to coordinate the government’s Brexit policy from the Cabinet Office in September, but he has continued to lead the team of Whitehall officials negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU.

According to The Times, Robbins is running the negotiations through direct talks with Barnier and European Commission official Sabine Weyand.

Responding to the report, DExEU said it was “wholly inaccurate” that Davis had been sidelined, but did not deny that Robbins had held talks with Barnier without Davis.

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