Whitehall mandarins in charge of negotiating post-Brexit trade deals have ‘safe space’

Staff working for Trade Secretary Liam Fox are coping with the stress of trying to strike post-Brexit deals by hugging pillows in a ‘safe space’.

The Department for International Trade has set up a ‘tranquillity room’ where frustrated officials can use mindfulness techniques to help them calm down.

Dr Fox is embroiled in the stand-off with No 10 over the length of time the UK stays in the EU’s customs union as part of Theresa May’s Brexit deal – constraining officials from signing deals elsewhere while still subject to customs rules set by Brussels.

Dr Fox outside the Department for International Trade, on 3 Whitehall Place, London. He is embroiled in the stand-off with No 10 over the length of time the UK stays in the EU’s customs union [File photo]

Dr Fox outside the Department for International Trade, on 3 Whitehall Place, London. He is embroiled in the stand-off with No 10 over the length of time the UK stays in the EU’s customs union [File photo]

Dr Fox outside the Department for International Trade, on 3 Whitehall Place, London. He is embroiled in the stand-off with No 10 over the length of time the UK stays in the EU’s customs union [File photo]

The tranquillity room is part of a daily ‘mindfulness club’ created by the DIT. Mindfulness is a form of meditation said to help practitioners feel calmer, more fulfilled and better able to concentrate. 

As well as hugging pillows, techniques include blowing bubbles to focus on breathing and making a ‘mindfulness jar’.

Liam Fox leaves Downing Street earlier this month. The Department for International Trade has set up a ‘tranquillity room’ where frustrated officials can use mindfulness techniques to help them calm down [File photo]

Liam Fox leaves Downing Street earlier this month. The Department for International Trade has set up a ‘tranquillity room’ where frustrated officials can use mindfulness techniques to help them calm down [File photo]

Liam Fox leaves Downing Street earlier this month. The Department for International Trade has set up a ‘tranquillity room’ where frustrated officials can use mindfulness techniques to help them calm down [File photo]

This means filling a jar with water, tipping in glitter, shaking, and watching the glitter settle, which is said to be soothing.

A spokesman for Dr Fox said: ‘The Secretary of State has been a long-standing champion of mental health issues. Like any organisation, the health of our staff is our utmost priority. DIT is committed to being an engaged, diverse, and inclusive department.’

To be continued

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