Civil Service chief DEFENDS government analysis of Brexit
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said mandarins were “scrupulous” about issuing documents “at pace and with accuracy”.
The official government position during the campaign was to back staying in the EU and Brexit-backers accused the Civil Service of being complicit what they termed the Remain campaign’s “project fear” approach, warning of the economic risks of leaving.
Leave campaigners were left particularly furious after then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne made use of Treasury research to warn that quitting the EU would result in households being £4,300 a year worse off.
But in a blog on the Government’s website on Tuesday, Sir Jeremy said: “During the official referendum campaign, we were scrupulous in making sure that all documents issued were factually correct and objective.
“Our core values remain the best guide to how we conduct ourselves in all circumstances; and we produced work as we should, at pace and with accuracy.
“As I have said elsewhere: ‘The Civil Service did its job’.”
Sir Jeremy said the challenge of Brexit had “few, if any parallels in its complexity” and stressed that negotiating the terms of withdrawal and untangling four decades of EU law “will take time”.
But he defended the Civil Service against accusations it should have done more before the June 23 vote to leave.
“The question has still been asked: ‘What was the Civil Service doing before the referendum? Where is the Brexit plan?’,” he said.
“This shows little appreciation of the constitutional and propriety framework in which we operate, not to mention the practical difficulty of producing a comprehensive plan for such a multi-faceted proposition as Brexit.
“Within these constraints, we used the time available to do important work.
“To be ready to act on the Government’s direction we wanted to understand the possible alternatives to EU membership, such as the requirements for membership of the European Free Trade Association; the sort of trade agreements reached by other countries outside the EU; what Brexit might mean for the economy; and the organisational implications of a ‘no’ vote, including the need to create an international trade department.
“This background analysis is now proving its worth.”