Britain’s government spent 4.4 billion pounds on Brexit planning

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government has spent at least 4.4 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money on preparations to leave the European Union, the public spending watchdog said on Friday, in the first detailed estimate of the cost of Brexit.

FILE PHOTO: A woman waves a British flag on Brexit day in London, Britain January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a report that most of the money was spent on staff costs, building new infrastructure and paying for external advice.

Although some ministries had to supplement their spending from existing budgets, the government overall only spent about 70% of the 6.3 billion pounds allocated to cover the cost of preparations, the report said.

In an indication of the upheaval that Brexit caused within government, the report said no fewer than 22,000 government officials were working on Brexit at the peak when Britain was on the verge of leaving the EU without a divorce deal last October.

“This report provides, for the first time, a clear picture of how much government has spent and what that money has been spent on,” said NAO head Gareth Davies.

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