Job advertised for post at proposed watchdog to police post-Brexit trade

Updated: 

Details about the shape of the Government's plans for Brexit have been set out in a job advert for a new organisation to deal with trade disputes.

The advert reveals that Liam Fox's Department for International Trade is setting up the new body, which will be operational by October 2018, in time for the formal date of Brexit in March the following year.

The UK would then be ready to take over the enforcement of trade rules which are currently handled by Brussels at the moment of separation from the European Union.

The creation of the new body is in line with Theresa May's desire to leave the single market and customs union and having it ready by the date of Brexit indicates that the UK is making contingency plans for a "no deal" scenario.

The advert, for a member of the "implementation team" setting up the UK Trade Remedies Organisation, says the legislation for the body will be put before Parliament following the summer recess which ends in September.

The job description for a "digital design lead" on a salary of up to £56,370, said the new organisation would tackle "incidents of unfair trade" such as dumping or subsidised imports.

The new organisation will be an arms-length body of the Department for International Trade and "will need to be operational by October 2018 in order to take on new investigations from UK producers (which would otherwise be concluded by the EU authorities after the UK has left the EU)".

The implementation team setting up the body will design the organisation and recruit around 130 staff.

But in a sign of the unpredictable nature of Brexit, the job advert, posted on the Government's civil service recruitment site, acknowledged the trade remedies implementation team "will be operating in a changing and uncertain environment" which could be shaped by the withdrawal negotiations taking place between the UK and Brussels.

"What we expect to deliver and the related timescales could change as our detailed policy thinking develops, as the legislation moves through Parliament, or as a result of the on-going negotiation with the EU.

"Therefore the role holder will need to able to demonstrate they can quickly adapt to accommodate change, be resilient and take a constructive and positive approach to keep the team motivated in the face of uncertainty.

"This is a brand new function in the UK and delivering a fully functional and fit-for-purpose organisation by October 2018 is a huge challenge."

Jill Rutter, programme director at the Institute for Government, said: "The Government needs to prepare for Brexit, and that includes being able to run our own system of trade defence.

"The Government's current policy is to leave the single market and the customs union and has to be ready for leaving with no deal. So this is a sensible part of that contingency planning."

Meanwhile, Brexit minister Steve Baker confirmed the Government was preparing for all outcomes of the Brexit talks, including the "unlikely" scenario of failing to strike a deal with Brussels.

In a letter to Labour MP Chuka Umunna of the Open Britain campaign group, Mr Baker said: "In relation to a 'no-deal' scenario, any responsible government would prepared for a range of possible outcomes from the negotiation, and this is what we are doing."

The letter was in response to an inquiry by Mr Umunna after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs "there is no plan for no deal, because we are going to get a great deal" on July 11.

Mr Umunna said: "It seems that Boris' claim that the Government has no plans for a Brexit with no deal was, to use a word he would understand, codswallop.

"This is just another example of ministers contradicting each other over vital details of our exit from the European Union.

"When the Foreign Secretary apparently has no idea what the Brexit Department is doing, how can we expect him to be capable of negotiating for Britain on the world stage?"