Government rushing to secure private sector support to help with Brexit and Covid-19

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) - Credit: PA

Ministers are having to hire consultants to deal with the Brexit process because government fears it will become overwhelmed by a second wave of Covid-19 cases, leaked documents have revealed.

According to the Telegraph, the Cabinet Office has requested consultants help it respond "rapidly to any worsening Covid crisis" until March 2021 as the Brexit transition period ends.

The documents warn that the existing task force of 200 staff - which Michael Gove suggested could handle both crises earlier this year - is often unable to adapt at pace or with the required skill level while dealing with “leaving the European Union and other policy priorities”.

Those attempting to win the contracts will be required to provide groups of up to 10 consultants to support “teams under particular pressure as a result of the development of the pandemic”.

It comes after reports reveal that the government has awarded at least £180 million in Brexit-related contracts to private companies.

Nick Davies of the Institute for Government criticised the government for not preparing sooner for the foreseeable crisis.

He said: “The government should have built up capacity sooner, particularly as it has been clear for some time that the challenges of dealing with the pandemic would not be over by the end of the Brexit transition period.”

The recruitment follows reports as senior consultants are being paid as much as £7,500 a day to assist with Test and Trace because civil servants are too overwhelmed to work on the project.

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