When it comes to Brexit, silence is not a strategy

Brexit planning could cost the Government £65 million a year and mean hiring at least 500 new civil servants – meanwhile valuable time and energy is being wasted on political squabbles and turf wars, says a new report.

Published today by the Institute for Government, ‘Planning for Brexit: silence is not a strategy’ assesses the progress the Government has made towards planning for Brexit. The report finds that while Whitehall is building the machinery to respond to Brexit, politicians don’t yet know what to do with it – or if they do, they aren’t saying.

The report authors, Dr Hannah White and Jill Rutter, also argue:

  • Whitehall responded quickly to Brexit, but there is still a gaping void of information about how the Government intends to reach a negotiating position.
  • Government needs to move swiftly to spell out its plan for reaching a negotiating position – even if it doesn’t want to give away its hand.
  • There must be clear processes for engaging affected sectors as well as other levels of government.

Dr Hannah White, Programme Director and co-author, said:

“Silence is not a strategy. The current situation – where we are left to interpret personal musings of individual ministers – is frustrating those looking for an early exit, perplexing those with whom we have to negotiate and unsettling those looking to do business in the UK. The Prime Minister has sworn she will not give a running commentary on negotiations, but she needs rapidly to clarify how and when the Government intends to go about making decisions on Brexit”.

Jill Rutter, Programme Director and co-author, added:

“Ministers will be faced with a series of difficult choices over the shape of Brexit. These are too important to be left to normal interdepartmental wrangling and horse-trading. Whitehall in general and the new Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) in particular will need to make sure ministers can make those choices on the best shared analysis the Civil Service can produce”


Notes to editors

  1. The full report is attached can be found here.
  2. The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.
  3. For more information, please contact nicole@instituteforgovernment.org.uk / 07850313791.