Raymond Doherty 21 Dec 2016 10:41am

Deloitte apologises to May over Brexit memo

The Big Four firm has apologised over a leaked memo which heavily criticised the government’s Brexit strategy

Last month the leak caused Theresa May’s office to launch an unprecedented attack on Deloitte, claiming the firm was “touting for business” through “unsolicited” analysis.

Deloitte has said today that it “regrets the publication of the two-page note, and has apologised for the unintended disruption it caused government".

The statement added, “The note was for internal audiences and was not a Deloitte point of view. We have put forward a plan for working with central government to put this matter behind us.”

According to a report in The Times, the plan includes not bidding for lucrative central government contracts for the next six months. Deloitte had no comment on the contract moratorium.

The original memo claimed that May’s government had no “overall negotiation strategy” for Brexit.

It said the government would need a further six months to prepare its Brexit negotiations strategy, due to splits between cabinet ministers and would need to hire 30,000 extra civil servants just to help with the negotiations.

It was also highly critical of May's leadership on Brexit, claiming she was “drawing in decisions and details to settle matters herself”. It said the prime minister’s attitude was not sustainable and could lead to senior civil servants having to intervene.

Reports said the leaked document, titled Brexit Update, was prepared for the Cabinet Office, but an official government spokesperson later said it was not commissioned by the government.

The memo also claimed that individual departments have been developing their projects to implement Brexit, resulting in well over 500 projects "which are beyond the capacity and capability of government to execute quickly".

Deloitte also revealed there has been conflict between two groups within the cabinet: on one side, pro-Brexit politicians foreign secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit minister David Davis and secretary of state for International Trade Liam Fox and, on the other side, chancellor Philip Hammond and secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clark.

Two days after the leak in November, David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said that the Big Four firm would "reluctantly" move work out of Britain if its ability to sponsor foreign workers is limited.