The Government must commit to a substantial increase in funding and personnel for the FCO, as the department’s role evolves to meet the challenges and opportunities in leaving the EU.
The Committee says the previous Government’s negligence in failing to conduct contingency planning for Brexit has exacerbated post-referendum uncertainty both within the UK and amongst key international partners, and made the task now facing the new Government substantially more difficult.
For this reason, the Committee urges the new Prime Minister to strengthen the FCO. As FCO officials move to other Whitehall departments to assist with the EU exit process, the Prime Minister should ensure the FCO has the resources to fill any gaps in capacity.
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt MP, said:
“The UK needs to give clear signals to our allies across the world that Britain is determined to assert our place in the world post Brexit. This is not just about trade in the EU or with the rest of the world – although that represents a significant challenge.
This is also about the UK’s international reputation. We want to see the FCO working effectively with the new Department for International Trade and the Department for Exiting the European Union. Our security, prosperity, values and democracy will depend on the strength of these key departments and their working relationships.
The Brexit challenge requires a fully staffed and resourced FCO. A commitment to scaling up resources and personnel would give a clear signal to allies of our priorities.”
20 July 2016