POLITICS
31/05/2018 15:08 BST | Updated 31/05/2018 16:30 BST

Just Three Extra Civil Servants Hired To Work On Brexit For Scotland

And the Brexit Department is operating with 10% fewer staff than it needs.

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Just three extra civil servants have been recruited by the Scotland Office to work on Brexit – despite the current constitutional deadlock between Westminster and Edinburgh.

Information obtained by HuffPost UK shows while many Government departments have seen their workforce swell to deal with Brexit matters, the Scotland Office has only seen a 4% increase.

The Scottish Parliament and UK Government are currently in a stand-off over how powers brought back from Brussels should be devolved.

Holyrood voted against Theresa May’s Brexit legislation earlier this month, meaning the Prime Minister may be forced to impose new laws on Scotland if a compromise cannot be reached.

Reacting to the revelation the Scotland Office has just three extra Brexit-focused civil servants to help chart a course through a potential constitutional crisis, SNP MP Deidre Brock told HuffPost UK: ’’This doesn’t surprise me. The UK Government Office in Scotland is once again displaying a shocking and complete indifference to protecting the needs of the people of Scotland in the face of their deeply damaging Brexit mess. 

“David Mundell has already proved completely incapable of protecting Scotland or the devolution settlement as Brexit continues to the cliff edge.

“To employ just three more personnel is just another sign that the Tories can’t be trusted when it comes to getting the best deal for Scotland.”

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Scottish Secretary David Mundell

The Scotland Office is not the only department with responsibility for a devolved part of the UK to receive limited support for Brexit.

The Wales Office has created five extra positions, of which four have been filled.

The Northern Ireland Office refused to tell HuffPost UK how many additional posts had been created to deal with Brexit, but did confirm “a central EU exit co-ordinating team of 7” has been broken up so “core EU exit work is distributed more widely across the whole department.”

It also confirmed it had received just £598,000 in additional funding from the Treasury to deal with Brexit matters.

The Institute of Government’s Joseph Owen, who has been analysing Whitehall’s capacity to process work relating to the UK’s departure from the EU, believes the Northern Ireland Office has been effectively bypassed on several of the key issues - despite a presence in both Westminster and Belfast.

He told HuffPost UK: “There’s no government in Stormont, power sharing talks have collapsed and the Irish Border is the biggest Brexit headache to date.

“But the Northern Ireland Office has just 150 people and got barely any extra cash from the Chancellor to beef up for Brexit.

“It seems that, on the most critical issues facing Northern Ireland, the department is watching from the sidelines”

The Freedom of Information requests also revealed the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has recruited 411 new civil servants in response to Brexit, while the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has created 220 positions – filling 172 of them.

The Department for Exiting the EU is currently operating at 10% below capacity, with just 653 posts filled out of 725.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Office of the SoS for Scotland represents effectively the interests of Scotland at the very heart of Government.

“That includes on Brexit, where we are determined to get the best deal for the whole of the UK as we leave the EU.

“And we are doing so in a way which fully respects the devolution settlement – to suggest otherwise is nonsense.”