The civil service after Article 50

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Series Details March 2017
Publication Date March 2017
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The Institute for Government is an independent charity in the United Kingdom working to increase government effectiveness.

It works with all the main political parties at Westminster and with senior civil servants in Whitehall. It provides evidence based advice that draws on best practice from around the world.

The Institute for Government is a registered charity in England and Wales (Registered Charity No.1123926).

The charitable objectives of the Institute are:

+ The advancement of education in the art and science of government in the UK for the benefit of the public and on a non-party political basis;
+ The promotion of efficient public administration of government and public service in the UK by providing programmes of education, training, research and study for the public benefit and on a non-party political basis.
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 June 2016 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:

+ Analysis: civil servants will need to develop options for new policies, advise ministers and react to EU negotiating positions
+ Co-ordination: civil servants must be able to access the expertise of a range of groups, including devolved administrations, local government, and businesses.
+ 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.
+ 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.

Authors: Anand Menon, Martin Lodge and Joe Owen

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Related Links
Institute for Government: Briefing Paper, December 2016: Whitehall’s preparation for the UK’s exit from the EU
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
IFG: Press Release, 13.03.17: Civil service will face fresh challenges after Article 50
Blog: LSE Brexit, 11.04.17: Squeezed mandarins: the four big challenges facing the civil service
UK: NAO: Report: Capability in the Civil Service, March 2017
The Guardian, 15.07.17: [Opinion]: Brexit is a massive venture. There’s no way these changes will happen smoothly
IFG: Whitehall Monitor 2018: The General Election, Brexit and beyond (January 2018)

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