Government departments are devoting over 6,700 staff to Brexit preparations instead of public services, The Red Roar can reveal.
Hundreds of staff who would normally work on schools, crime and transport are instead working on Brexit issues or have been transferred to another department entirely to work on Brexit according to detailed statistics revealed by a series of Freedom of Information requests.
The releases lay bare the impact of Brexit on the worst affected departments, with over 2,700 staff in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) spending the majority of their time on Brexit preparations instead of other departmental priorities like flooding.
But most surprising is the impact on departments that are not obviously connected with Brexit. There are 166 fewer staff working on education, 300 fewer working on transport, and 305 who should be working on work and pensions issues who are working on Brexit instead. Even the Ministry of Justice has had to devote 320 staff to Brexit, while the Ministry of Defence has devoted 61 to the issue.
While most departments answered the requests at least in part, the Department for Health and the Home Office were amongst four that refused, leaving the politically sensitive issue of how many staff are working on Brexit instead of health and security unanswered.
The government has already faced fierce criticism for the time and money it has spent on Brexit instead of other national priorities after Boris Johnson spent £8 billion on No Deal preparations and £100 million on a Brexit advertising blitz that cost taxpayers £25-a-click.
The Freedom of Information requests that formed the basis of this story are available here.