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Thursday Jul 7

Britain is turning to the private sector to prepare for the ramifications of Brexit vote.


 

The British Government is seeking the assistance of some of the largest accountancy firms for the upcoming EU exit negotiations.

The civil service has been liaising with top firms like KPMG, PwC, and EY for advice on how to approach discussions with the EU, following the UK referendum to leave the European Union, according to the Financial Times.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, one of Britain’s top civil servants has held talks with companies such as KPMG and EY as he prepares for a negotiation with Brussels. A spokesperson from PwC also confirmed the company had been approached by government officials and were “ready to help as required.”

“We want the brightest and the best working on these complex negotiations,” said a government spokesperson. “It is right to draw on people with the necessary skills and expertise from within the civil service but also to look outside too.”

Around 700 extra staff are estimated to be recruited to deal with negotiations with the EU as well as other countries. But the process is not going to be easy, as Iain Anderson, executive chairman of communications company, Cicero predicts:

“The government is going to struggle to gear up to have the bandwidth to properly negotiate the detailed cross-EU and wider bilateral trade deals across the globe.”

Last week, in parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron said that the EU exit is “the most complex and most important task that the British civil service has undertaken in decades” and guaranteed that the team would be staffed by “the brightest and best across our civil service,” with many younger civil servants being excited about taking part in this major exercise.

“It will report to the whole of the cabinet on delivering the outcome of the referendum, advising on transitional issues and exploring objectively options for our future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world from outside the EU.”

In response to the proposed talks of recruiting people from the private sector, one leading lawyer said that staff were actually not willing to be brought in by the government for the task and that the government’s hopes of recruiting enough people was far-fetched.

“The Cabinet Office needs to come down to reality. They will be confronted with people from the EU who live and breathe its rules. They should focus on getting people back from Brussels.”

Furthermore, some disenchanted civil servants who have devoted their careers towards developing Britain’s relations with the EU say that they do not have the stomach to spend the next few years reversing the work they have built up.

“Of course part of me thinks I have a duty to the country because I understand this stuff,” said one senior official. “But I could always go and make some money in the City instead.”

In early 2016, it surfaced that government spending on consultants and temp staff had gone up by between £400 million and £600 million over the last four years.

The NAO (National Audit Office) found that the government spent an estimated £1.3 billion in 2015 on consultants, with the largest suppliers being PwC, McKinsey, EY, KPMG and Deliotte

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