The UK government is recruiting 50 civil servants to handle Brexit-related crises related to a disorderly withdrawal from the EU, as it intensifies its no-deal planning.
Recruits will join the civil contingency secretariat of the Cabinet Office, which is tasked with managing major events and responding to civil emergencies, including floods, disease outbreaks and terrorism, according to the job description.
The civil servants, who must be UK nationals and already work in a government department, will operate under the civil contingencies resource pool and start work in February.
The pool is taking a lead role in the cross-government contingency planning, known as Operation Yellowhammer.
They will also be given training on the “mechanism” of Cobra, the government’s emergency committee, and be required to oversee “rapid policy developments” in response to “fast moving” and “major” events.
The 12-week contract will require involve “troubleshooting and devising creative solutions to difficult issues”, the description states.
“Major events and crisis rotas can cover a 24-hour period, seven days a week in a three-shift system,” it says.
“Successful candidates will form a pool of staff who can surge in to manage and oversee cross-government response activities to ensure HM government responds effectively to major events.
“It is anticipated that the pool might be drawn upon from the middle of February 2019. Those selected will be asked to support until at least late June 2019 [although this maybe extended].”
The British government “is about to switch into full-on no-deal planning”, according to one official close to ministers.
The UK prime minister will hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, when she will discuss no-deal preparations for Brexit. Speaking in Brussels, Theresa May said: “We have already stepped up no-deal preparations. We will be looking at what final work we need to do.”
Mrs May’s new focus on “no-deal” Brexit planning is seen by Eurosceptics as coming far too late in the day to be effective.
Instead they believe it is being used as a political device to scare MPs into backing the prime minister’s deal, rather than risk plunging the country into the uncertainty and economic chaos of a disorderly exit.
Philip Hammond, chancellor, is blamed by Tory Brexiters for refusing to sanction the kind of no-deal planning needed to make the possibility of Britain walking away from the negotiating table a realistic threat.
With little more than 100 days to go until Brexit on March 29 2019, Mr Hammond has announced via Twitter that he is preparing to “allocate a further £2bn . . . to government departments to bolster #Brexit preparations”.
The Treasury has been assessing bids from across Whitehall but the process has become fractious. “Some departments are bidding for money which has nothing to do with Brexit planning,” one government insider said.
Among the schemes vying for funding is a proposal by Chris Grayling, transport secretary, to hire ships— or space on ships — to bring emergency supplies to Britain in the event of the Dover-Calais route becoming blocked by new border checks.
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