In the House of Commons, Labour's Shadow Civil Service Minister, Louise Haigh, today urged the government to halt drastic Whitehall cuts as the civil service gears up for the largest negotiations in post-war history following the vote to leave the European Union.
With the civil service smaller than at any time since the Second World War having lost around 90,000 staff since 2010, the 2015 Spending Review outlined further cuts to the budget of Whitehall departments averaging 19%.
Labour has warned that Whitehall is facing a "perfect storm" with unplanned for and extraordinarily complex negotiations draining already stretched resources at a time of job losses and organisational change. Despite having to negotiate some 120 trade agreements there are just 20 trade negotiators with the requisite experience across Whitehall:
Commenting Louise Haigh said:
"The budget cuts pencilled in will mean the civil service will face up to massed ranks of the Brussels bureaucracy in prolonged negotiations with one hand tied behind their backs and while colleagues around them are being made redundant."
"And Departments such as BIS, which will be leading our new global trade relationships need to ask very seriously whether now is really the time to lead an introspective and cross-departmental reorganisation when they should be focussed on getting the best possible deal for Britain."
"It would be an abdication of responsibility if the government did not give the civil servants the resources they need and instead force them to spend vital time implementing brutal budget cuts at home when they should be out there batting for Britain in Europe."
You can watch Louise's comments in the House of Commons here