Britain plans to create a new body to tackle incidents of unfair trade when it leaves the European Union, according to a Government job advert.
The Government hopes the new body, being set up by the Department for International Trade, will be operational by October 2018 – ahead of the formal date of Brexit in March 2019.
Meanwhile, Brexit minister Steve Baker confirmed the Government was preparing for all outcomes in its negotiations with Brussels, including a “no deal” scenario.
The new body, called UK Trade Remedies Organisation, looks to recruit about 130 staff.
“We need to develop the UK’s approach to tackling allegations of unfair competition and build the capability and capacity to investigate complaints and enforce the rules,” the advert said.
Theresa May has said Britain will leave the EU’s customs union when it exits the EU, in order to pursue its own trade agreements with countries around the world.
The country’s trade policy is currently handled through the EU.
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Delivering “a fully functional and fit-for-purpose organisation” by the autumn of next year will be “a huge challenge”, the advert added.
In a sign of how unpredictable the Brexit process will be, the job advert 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 ongoing negotiation with the EU,” it said.
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.”
Mr Baker said the scenario of failing to strike a deal with Brussels was “unlikely” – but the Government was getting ready for various outcomes.
“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,” he said in a letter to Labour MP Chuka Umunna of the Open Britain campaign group.
Mr Umunna had asked the Government if a contingency plan existed after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had told MPs last month that “there is no plan for no deal, because we are going to get a great deal”.
Image: Boris Johnson dismissed the possibility of a no deal with Brussels
Mr Umunna, in a comment to Mr Baker’s letter, accused the Government of having no clear position on Brexit.
“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,” he said.
“This is just another example of ministers contradicting each other over vital details of our exit from the European Union.”