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Brexit Preparations: Cost

Volume 657: debated on Thursday 4 April 2019

3. What estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department’s preparations for the UK to leave the EU. (910212)

Since its formation, our Department has spent £25 million in 2016-17 and £58 million in 2017-18, and it has budgeted £96 million for 2018-19, but of course the Government have also allocated substantial sums to fund departmental preparations and preparations by devolved Administrations for EU exit.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Has his Department conducted any analysis of the costs of running a second referendum, and will he confirm that a second referendum is not Government policy?

I can certainly confirm the latter. A second referendum would create further uncertainty and division. We do not think it is the right way forward.

Has the Minister had a chance to discuss with the Transport Secretary the full cost to the taxpayer of Seaborne Freight, given the extension to article 50 and the costs incurred accordingly?

As the right hon. Gentleman will know, this was a contract where it was supposed to be payment by results, so that full cost is extremely limited.

What estimate have the Government made of the cost to the public purse and the potential damage to the economy if this has prevented them from implementing their manifesto commitment to leave the customs union?

I direct my hon. Friend to the Government’s own published cross-Government analysis, which looks at a range of different scenarios. It is clear that there are opportunities for pursuing international trade that we can take only if we are outside a customs union.

Will the Minister further outline the essential nature of the work to provide support and guidance to businesses, and the vital nature of support to the business community throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point. There has been a huge amount of engagement across Government, particularly from our Department, with businesses, both on a no-deal scenario and the contingency planning that has to continue until we have secured a deal, and on the potential for the future partnership. We will continue that engagement with businesses large and small. Of course, a huge amount of information is now on the website, which I encourage businesses to look at to see what steps they might have to take in the event of no deal.