Defra is on “Brexit red alert” as the government hires nearly 3,000 new staff to prepare for the potential fallout, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats has revealed the department has employed thousands of new staff to prepare for Brexit.
Of those hired, 320 come from other government departments and 400 from the arms length bodies, such as Natural England.
According to the National Audit Office, Defra is one of the government departments “most affected by EU Exit.”
It is responsible for 55 of the 319 EU related work streams across government, covering chemical and agri-food industries, agriculture, fisheries and the environment.
And with 80% of its work affected by Brexit, it needs to support negotiations, repatriate regulatory functions, help with border preparations and design, legislate and implement new systems for agricultural support, fisheries management and environmental protection.
Despite some of the department's failures in meeting targets, the National Audit Office praises Defra for achieving a 'great deal in difficult circumstances'.
However, the Liberal Democrats have warned that the department is on “Brexit red alert”, adding: “This is government panic buying because, like farmers up and down the country, they know Brexit will only bring chaos.
“Hiring almost 3,000 new staff, particularly when it means taking staff away from the important work they do elsewhere, shows how unprepared Tory Ministers are. It doesn’t need to be this way.”