LONDON – David Davis heads to Brussels on Monday for the fourth round of Brexit talks as an investigation found 20% of civil servants at the Brexit department have left in its first 14 months.
The Brexit secretary will meet the European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier as both sides attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations over the financial settlement after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Barnier said that there had been no “decisive progress” following the third round of Brexit talks, but the government hopes Theresa May’s Florence Speech will allow negotiations to move on and that there could be a breakthrough.
The negotiators need to have made “sufficient progress” on three key issues – Britain’s financial obligations, the Northern Irish border, and citizens’ rights – in order to be given a mandate by the European Council to move talks onto the future relationship.
Turmoil at the Department for Exiting the EU
A freedom of information request by Bloomberg has now suggested that the Department for Exiting the EU is in turmoil as the data shows that 124 employees have left since its creation.
482 civil servants remain, but the high turnover of staff, with 20% leaving in just over a year, suggests that many are keen to move on from the Whitehall office.
It follows the department’s top official leaving to take up a role in Downing Street. Oliver Robbins quit as permanent secretary at DExEU in order to focus on a job as Brexit adviser for Prime Minister Theresa May.
It has previously been claimed that there are problems within the Brexit department, with reports of a “schism” between Robbins and Davis at the beginning of September.
All is not well at DExEU
Labour MP Stephen Doughty, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said last week after Robbins’s resignation: “We’ve already seen Lord Bridges and Lord Price, the Government’s ministers for Brexit and trade in the House of Lords, resign in recent weeks. This is just the latest indication that all is not well at DExEU.”
A DExEU spokesperson claimed that fewer than five of the employees that had left the department had quit the civil service, which could indicate that they moved on in order to be promoted in other Whitehall offices.
They said: “The majority moved on to other government departments because their loan, contract or fast stream rotation ended.
“Given the large majority of these changes were the result of normal civil service rotation or the end of defined loan periods, these roles were quickly filled.”
DExEU said it did not hold records on whether those who left were promoted elsewhere.