Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Brexit: Risky and rushed activity must not become ‘new normal’
Government should also ensure lack of transparency does not continue into the longer term.
- Read the report summary
- Read the report conclusions and recommendations
- Read the full report: Brexit and the UK border: further progress review
Departments face an unprecedented challenge in preparing for the UK’s exit from the European Union, especially with the continuing political uncertainty over the final outcome.
Despite raising our concerns throughout 2018, departments have continued to struggle to prepare should the UK leave the EU without a deal. We are disappointed to see that some of our early concerns have now been realised.
The Department for Transport has failed to make timely preparations to procure the additional freight capacity needed to transport critical goods. Despite being aware that the ferry industry would need time to put in place additional capacity, the Department did not start serious preparations to procure this additional capacity until September 2018, just six months before the UK is due to leave the EU.
The Department’s procurement approach has been rushed and risky and preparations have been conducted in secrecy with inadequate stakeholder engagement.
Our inquiry has thrown up that the Department did not have any written assurance that Seaborne Freight had a shipping partner until after the contract was agreed and then signed.
The Department for Transport has been also over-optimistic about how much capacity it could secure and has ultimately failed to deliver the freight capacity it required. This was in part because of the late decision to procure the capacity and the unusual and secretive approach to procurement.
Time has now run out to procure significant additional capacity by other means. This has implications for securing the flow of priority goods.
While the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs asserts that the impact on food supplies will not lead to shortages, we are concerned this is another example of over-optimism.
We are unconvinced that the departments are prepared for the practical challenges that no deal would bring, particularly in managing the flow of priority goods.
Chair's comments given yesterday:
“My Committee’s work in this Parliament has laid bare the struggles Government departments have faced in preparing for a potential no-deal Brexit.
“It is critical that the approach to decision-taking adopted in response to what are unprecedented challenges does not embed itself as the ‘new normal’.
“Taxpayers’ money must not be risked by business-as-usual done on the fly. Nor should transparency be sacrificed at the whim of Government.
“The use of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements during Brexit preparations has come at the expense of proper engagement with stakeholders, and deprived Parliament and the public of information they need to hold Government to account.
“It is not clear, for example, what benefits the Government’s £33 million settlement with Eurotunnel will secure for the UK.
“Nor is it clear over what timescale the benefits will be delivered, how they will be measured, or if the Government tested whether settling with Eurotunnel was the best method of securing them.
“This is not a sustainable approach. In the event of Brexit, and the longer-term challenges this presents, it is vital that taxpayers can have confidence their money is being spent wisely and with due consideration for the risks involved.
“Whatever the outcome of the Brexit process, the Whitehall machinery must reflect on the activity of recent months and years and use what it has learned to drive real improvements.”
Latest News from
Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Government inaction hindering Ombudsman’s ability to serve public25/03/2019 12:15:00
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) today publishes its report examining the performance of the Public Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) in 2017/18.
The Brexit paradox: UK will need to increase its presence in Brussels significantly25/03/2019 10:25:00
The House of Lords EU Select Committee has today published its report Beyond Brexit: how to win friends and influence people.
'Children deserve better' than slow progress on social care22/03/2019 12:05:00
Delivery date for Government’s programme of reforms has slipped from 2020 to 2022,
European Union Committee draws special attention to trade agreements with Israel and Switzerland21/03/2019 14:05:00
Make public engagement and understanding of Parliament a requirement of Restoration and Renewal21/03/2019 13:05:00
The Joint Committee on the Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill has today published its report on the Bill and called for it to be amended to include a requirement that the Sponsor Body must use the R&R programme to promote public engagement and understanding of Parliament.
Over-budget EastEnders project was flawed from the start20/03/2019 15:47:00
BBC underestimated scale and complexity of E20, which will be completed nearly five years late.
Flawed system leaves leaseholders at risk of exploitation by developers, freeholders and managing agents – urgent reform needed19/03/2019 16:25:00
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has called for wide ranging reforms to the leasehold system in a report published today.
Four special inquiry committees recommended by the Lords Liaison Committee18/03/2019 16:15:00
The House of Lords Liaison Committee recently (15 March 2019) published its fourth report of the 2017–19 session, in which it recommends to the House four proposals for new special inquiry (formerly ad hoc) committees in 2019–20.