The Ministry of Defence is preparing to lend its strategic expertise to the Brexit department, the MoD's top official Stephen Lovegrove has revealed, as he told CSW that leaving the EU will require "everybody" in government to play their part.
In an exclusive interview, Lovegrove said his department was standing by to offer advice to those civil servants who will be directly responsible for negotiating Brexit – but downplayed the impact of the UK's EU withdrawal on his own organisation.
“I have discussed with colleagues in the Department for Exiting the European Union that we will try and make sure some of our expertise and knowledge of scenario testing and red-teaming [a process of planning and policy challenge] is actually used by colleagues who are dealing with Brexit, because that’s a very complex, dynamic set of considerations,” Lovegrove said.
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“We haven’t quite got to that point yet because, obviously, we’re at the base camp of Brexit – as we read about on a daily basis – but when there’s more to go on we will happily make available those techniques and those facilities to test some of the scenarios.”
The MoD perm sec described Brexit as a "national endeavour which absolutely everybody involved in government is going to have to play a very full part in".
But he pointed out that his own department was "not in the kind of position of our colleagues in DEFRA, for instance, who have an enormous suite of their policies being absolutely, directly affected" by withdrawal from the EU.
DEFRA, which leads on environment and agricultural policy, will be tasked with drawing up an entirely new system of support for British farmers, currently provided by the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.
Lovegrove meanwhile stressed that the UK's defence policy remains based on multinational and binational arrangements which are not dependent on membership of the EU.
Highlighting the nations involved in recent NATO deployments in Poland and the Baltic states, the MoD perm sec told CSW: “These are obviously all European countries, but you will see that of the four lead nations, two of them – Canada and the USA – are not European nations. And, before too long, three of them won’t be.”
Read the full interview with Stephen Lovegrove here