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Shropshire Brexit officer: 'Ask Whitehall' what job entails

By Andrew Morris | Politics | Published:

Shropshire Council’s Brexit officer was not willing to divulge the details of her role – and said it was for the government to do so instead.

Claire Porter was appointed the council’s Brexit lead after the government wrote to all local authorities in England ordering them to appoint an officer to deal with Britain’s exit from the European Union.

But when asked what her role entails, Ms Porter suggested contacting the government for an answer instead.

'Ask Whitehall' was the response to a request for more information about her role and what her duties entailed.

It comes after communities secretary Robert Jenrick wrote to all local authorities in the country to ask them to appoint an officer to plan for Brexit – especially in the case of a no deal Brexit.

Mr Jenrick also pledged £20 million funding to help local authority preparations.

In the letter, he said: “The UK will be leaving the European Union on October 31.

“Although we would prefer to leave with a deal, we are making all necessary preparations to leave without a deal if the EU refuses to negotiate a new arrangement.

“Local government has a vital role in ensuring our departure is as smooth as possible.

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“I want to thank you, your councillors and your officers for all the hard work you have already done, particularly in advance of the March and April deadlines.

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“Just as central government is urgently intensifying preparation in advance of October 31, it is right that together we work to do the same in every community.

“To help us to better co-ordinate our efforts, I am asking all of you to designate a senior officer in your authority as Brexit Lead Officer.”

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Mr Jenrick went on to say that the officer’s role should include ensuring the council has taken all reasonable steps to prepare for Britain’s exit from the EU on October 31.

“This should include clear communication to local residents and businesses to support their own preparations for Brexit and a plan for how the council would communicate important messages to stakeholders,” he said.

It also involves “ensuring the council has a team in place which is equipped to support the delivery of Brexit” and “overseeing the expenditure of the specific Brexit funding allocated to their council and ensuring it is effectively contributing to local preparations.”

Mr Jenrick added: “It involved playing a full part in your local resilience forum to ensure that its plans for no deal take account of relevant local circumstances and potential impacts on local communities.

“I will be writing separately to all LRF chairs to set out how I propose to work with them to prepare for Brexit and to ask that they liaise with you to assess relevant impacts.

“I announced £20 million of funding for all local authorities in England to aid Brexit preparations, which will support the work of this critical post.

“The Government recognises that certain areas face more acute pressures, and I am currently considering how best to allocate this funding.”

Andrew Morris

By Andrew Morris
Local Democracy Reporter - @AndyMorrisLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Shropshire.

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