THE UK government’s new Brexit department has spent more than a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers’ money on legal advice.
In the two months since it was created, the new department has splashed £268,711 (€317,525), raising doubts over how prepared the Conservative Party is for taking the country out of the EU.
Brexit Minister David Jones said the department is currently estimating the cost for the next 12 months, adding that nothing has been spent on external legal firms.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who requested the information, said: “Anyone who thinks Brexit will be quick or easy is seriously mistaken.
“This huge taxpayer-funded Brexit bill for legal advice shows how ill-prepared Whitehall is for what will be the biggest and most complex set of negotiations it has ever attempted.
“But it is not just legal advice where the government is ill-prepared – we simply don’t have anything like the number of trade negotiators necessary to establish a new trading relationship with the EU or other countries.
“The process of leaving the European Union, regardless of what deal the Government eventually agrees, will be long and painful and risks a long period of uncertainty for British business, jobs and our wider economy.”
Staunch Brexiteer and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told MP’s on Thursday morning:
“We are not intending to create a standing army of bureaucrats that would be expensive to the taxpayer.
“My department already has a strong and capable trade policy team, which has doubled since June 23.
“In the next two years we will be developing that team to build the world-class negotiating strength needed to deliver the best outcomes for the UK.”