Working to make government more effective


The civil service after Article 50

This paper looks at the challenges facing the civil service during Brexit.

The Institute for Government and The UK in a Changing Europe have produced this analysis paper to look at the challenges facing the civil service and the capacity requirements that must be managed, over the course of Brexit. Since the referendum there has been much speculation about whether the civil service – at its smallest since the Second World War, already focused on implementing manifesto commitments with a reduced headcount and smaller budgets – has the capacity to carry out its task.

Previous Institute for Government research found progress in preparing for the approaching talks. But the triggering of Article 50 will represent the beginning of a new phase of Brexit. The paper describes how Brexit will make four demands on the civil service:

  1. Analysis: civil servants will need to develop options for new policies, advise ministers and react to EU negotiating positions
  2. Co-ordination: civil servants must be able to access the expertise of a range of groups, including devolved administrations, local government, and businesses.
  3. Legislation: the civil service will need the skills and capacity to prepare, draft and manage the passage into law of a big body of legislation, some of which will be highly contentious and to tight timelines.
  4. Delivery: civil servants will then have to implement the outcome of any final deal, which includes new regulatory regimes, immigration systems and customs checks at UK borders.


Country (international)
European Union
Institute for Government

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