Liam Fox's department forced to pay £2.6m for crash trade training

Disgraced former defence secretary Liam Fox

Accountancy giant Deloitte has been handed £2.6m to give Liam Fox's officials a crash course in how to handle trade disputes.

The Department for International Trade is set to pay the external consultants roughly £325,000 a month to prepare officials working at the country's trade authority.

The contract, unearthed by news website Politico, commenced in June and runs until the end of February 2019 - a month before the UK's exit from the EU.

The government's online contracts archive stipulates that the programme will be split between core modules for all employees and technical modules for around 100 investigations staff.

The summary document states that Deloitte, one of the Big Four accountancy firms, will "undertake all aspects of design and delivery to enable the Trade Remedies Authority to be operational in time for the UK's exit from the EU".

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A Department for International Trade spokesman said the TRA "will be ready to carry out reviews and investigations ahead of the UK beginning to operate its own independent trade remedies framework.

"An extensive training programme is being developed and delivered by specialists which draws heavily on the department's expertise and knowledge. This will ensure staff have the correct skills to defend UK industry against unfair trade practices."

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A Deloitte spokesman said: "Leaving the EU presents a series of challenges and opportunities, never experienced before. Firms such as ours can help add vital capacity, expertise and insight supporting Whitehall and public services as they prepare and position themselves for the post-EU environment."

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