The minister for Government resilience and efficiency, Caroline Nokes, insisted the Government was preparing for the UK to make an “orderly and successful” exit from the European Union, adding: “We are equipping ourselves with the right people and the right skills across Government to make this happen.”
Her comments came as the SNP’s Stuart C McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) claimed: “After a decade of austerity it seems that £400 million and 8,000 new staff can be found for Brexit including 5,000 for HMRC.”
He branded it “more ludicrous than ever” to propose to close Cumbernauld tax office with its experienced and dedicated workforce.
Ms Nokes replied: “The Cabinet Office works closely with HMRC on workforce planning and indeed on Government hubs, where we are seeking to make sure that we make the best possible use of our resources to provide an effective civil service that provides the best service for his constituents.”
SNP MP Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) challenged the minister to provide more detail on the number of civil servants assigned work relating to the UK’s exit from the EU and the costs, accusing the Government of presiding over a “shambles”.
Speaking during Commons Cabinet Office questions, he said: “The Cabinet Office is supposedly co-ordinating this country’s exit from the European Union so they really ought to know this stuff.
“The minister has not answered the question.
Can I clarify, is that because she doesn’t think Parliament is entitled to the information about how many staff are working on this and what it costs, or is it because the process is such a shambles that she is unable to provide this information?”
Ms Nokes replied: “We’ve already created 3,000 new roles of which 2,000 have been filled. As I said, further roles will be created and specifically the Cabinet Office is working most closely with those departments that are most affected.”