Around a quarter of the staff at the Department for Exiting the European Union have came from outside the civil service, the department’s permanent secretary Olly Robbins has told MPs.
Giving evidence to the Exiting the European Union Select Committee with DExEU secretary David Davis yesterday, Robbins confirmed that the number of full time equivalent posts in the department currently stood at 322.
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Asked by committee member Karl McCartney how many of the department’s staff had been recruited from outside the civil service, Robbins said the department was currently going through “a big external recruitment exercise at the moment”.
He added: “We now have either in the department, or with firm offers to come into the department, just over 80 people from outside the civil service.”
Asked by McCartney how many of these external recruits had previously worked in the civil service, Robbins said he could not provide this information and was “not aware of this being a particular issue”. He was urged by McCartney to provide additional information on this.
Also in the session, Davis told MPs that no assessment had been made since the Brexit vote about the economic impact of leaving the EU without a deal in place setting out the UK’s future relationship with the bloc.
Davis told MPs that an assessment had been made by the Treasury during the referendum campaign, adding: “but I think one of the issues that’s arisen is that those forecasts don’t appear to have exactly been very robust since then.”
There has been no review subsequent to this, he added. “The answer is, if you mean under my time, no.”
However, this did not mean that the issues that would result from leaving the EU at the end of the two-year Article 50 process were not being considered.
“This is part of an ongoing process that started last year,” he said. “And it’s rigorous across every department of state, every single one. It ranges from customs through to agriculture and what we do there, to nuclear safety – every single department of state.”
Davis's comments came less than 24 hours before the bill authorising prime minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 received Royal Assent.
The legislation was passed by MPs and peers on Monday and is now an act of parliament that will formally allow May to meet her pledge to start the process by the end of the month.