Tom Brake reveals staff exodus from Brexit Department

Tom Brake got some good coverage in the Independent today – the digital equivalent of a front page splash.

He  revealed that 357 members of staff at the Government’s Brexit Department, equivalent to around half of the current staff detail, have left since July 2016

He observed that the new figures revealed the “deep instability right at the heart of the Conservative Government’s failing Brexit operation.”

Figures uncovered by our intrepid Lib Dem Freedom of Information team reveal that as of June 2018 that 357 staff have left the department in the last two years which is pretty incredible given that they only employ at maximum 665 people.

Why does this matter? Well, when you are trying to pull together the most complex piece of work attempted by a government in living memory, surely you want to have some consistency in the people doing it. 

Tom said:

If it wasn’t enough that the country is being torn out of the EU by the incompetent leadership of Theresa May and her dysfunctional and divided Cabinet, it would appear that the Government’s Brexit Department turnover is higher than that for managers in the English Premier League.

A winning team requires stability, long-term planning and experience. This Conservative Government lacks all three. When the Government’s key Brexit Department is being hollowed out it is no wonder that a no-deal is ever more likely

The public have lost patience. They know Brexit will damage the NHS, jobs and the environment. That is why Liberal Democrats are fighting for the people to have the final say on the deal, and an opportunity to Exit from Brexit.


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  • John Littler 3rd Sep '18 - 8:49pm

    Well done for that.
    As an ex civil servant and ex (moderate) trade union elected rep., those resignation figures are like nothing I have ever heard of and represent deeply unhappy or worried staff.

    Career civil servants will not want to have their careers tainted by association with what will be seen as deeply flawed and failed project. Quite apart from that, they are intelligent people who mostly do not believe that leaving the EU in these circumstances will do anything but deep harm to the country and although they are required to be loyal to their ministers, as well as highly discrete and nearly always are, there are limits as to what some would be prepared to do, to be associated with such colossal foolishness.

    In such an atmosphere, the staff who stay will often be the ones who have so far been unable to secure a transfer to an alternative post in a different department, or to a different line of work, perhaps.

  • David Evans 3rd Sep '18 - 11:43pm

    I’m not sure what coverage The Voice thinks Tom and the Lib Dems got. As far as I can see, neither him nor the Lib Dems were mentioned on Page 1 at all. Indeed in the online article, the Lib Dems get two mentions and Tom only one. That’s less than Dominic Raab – one mention and one 40 second clip – or yesterday’s man David Davis with two personal mentions.

    We are still being ignored.

  • The important issue, regardless of who revealed it, is the ‘exodus’. The disaster which is Universal Credit was exacerbated by the high turnover of staff, especially when those with experience disappeared.
    Brexit is a mistake and a mistake that will be made far worse by the inability of the department tasked to implement the resultant ‘rag tag’ agreements to do the detailed work. May, Johnson, et al, are masters of the ‘broad stroke’ negotiation, trusting in the minions to rescue their “It’ll be alright on the night” approach.
    As the October (non) deadline disappears it seems more and more likely that, like the unrecruited extra customs/border officials, the dearth of departmental staff will mean that we exit on a liferaft rather than the SS Opportunity.

  • David Blake 5th Sep '18 - 11:45am

    David Evans – I don’t think you can say that the Independent ignored us on this. The article prominently says “The information obtained by the Liberal Democrats appears to corroborate previous reports about an extraordinarily high turnover at the Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) …” The story was picked up by Civil Service World and is on their website and Twitter. Not huge coverage, true, but it was there.

  • David Blake 5th Sep '18 - 4:47pm

    Noticed that the Civil Service World piece is written by Mark Smulian. A familiar name.

  • David Evans 5th Sep '18 - 7:55pm

    David Blake, We were not on Page 1, and as you point out, we only got a minor passing mentions online. Dominic Raab got more for his ‘we are preparing’ message. It is not huge coverage, it is so tiny as to be inconsequential.

    As for Civil Service today, it has 11k followers and achieved 1 retweet.

    If you think that such paltry levels of this is evidence we are not being ignored, I will just have to disagree with you.

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