Dame Lucy explains why Brexit is so complicated

I thought my source of leaks from deep in the official government machine had dried up. I was delighted and surprised to be sent an undercover copy of the latest instructions from Dame Lucy Doolittle to her team, and reproduce it here as I think it deserves a wider circulation. She has written:

“It is most important we provide a good service to the new government. They have been swept into office on the back of the disruption caused by the unexpected vote in the referendum. They had to set up a new unit to deal with the aftermath, and we should co-operate with the Brexit department within the Cabinet Office.

We must also understand as independent civil servants that it remains our duty to set out the many unfortunate and difficult consequences of the referendum outcome. We need to stress to Ministers that the UK has many and complex arrangements with the EU and all its member states. It will take us time to do a professional job mapping all the Directives, Regulations, ECJ Court judgements, EU bodies, budgets and grant programmes that have a bearing on the UK. We need to stop Ministers rushing headlong into an Article 50 letter and rapid negotiations, given the enormous complexity of our deep and wide ranging relationship with the EU. We have worked tirelessly for many years to ensure the UK does participate fully in the single market, in the large legislative programme, and the many pan EU initiatives from Open Skies through the Common Fishing Policy to the Competition regime. I would be grateful for you all to advise me of the many other areas of joint policy and EU jurisdiction.

Ministers need to be told that they must not press ahead all the time there are court actions over the legality of sending any Article 50 letter. Even if the court finds in the government’s favour, we need to be ready for an appeal which will delay matters further.

We have been asked to work on a Great Repeal Bill to remove the powers of the EU enshrined in the 1972 Act. We need to remind Ministers that the UK has Treaty obligations regardless of the Act, and that they must follow the process set out in Article 50 anyway. We need to warn Ministers that a Repeal Bill cannot be short and based on principles. It will have to be more detailed, listing all the relevant Regulations and court judgements, and going into detail about replacement regimes in agriculture, fishing, competition law, aviation and many other areas which will need certainty. None of this can be done quickly. I can see this lasting up to the next election if we are to do it thoroughly.

There are those who argue the Repeal Act can be short and simple because the 1972 Act to take us into the EEC was itself principles based and short. This is a misunderstanding of the position. The UK was then joining a much less wide ranging body. Standards were then lower for legislation. We now need to provide much more detail which will require considerable study.

Business and some Ministers are concerned about the UK remaining part of the Single Market. We need to stress that this would be the best course, and that will require wide ranging negotiations with compromises over issues like migration and budget contributions. I expect you all to be talking to your opposite numbers on the continent about all the things the UK will need from any Leaving Agreement, which will provide the context for Ministers needing to start offering concessions and compromises. It is important our partners in the EU are aware of just how much the UK will need in its Agreement, and ensure they understand the full range of complications they need to consider.

The mood in the Commission is not favourable to the UK. Commissioners do think the UK has to be taught a lesson if it continues with the idea that it can simply leave the EU after all these years of joint working without adverse consequences. We do need to get this important point across to Ministers. I will be writing to you again soon about the role of the Treasury. They are understandably sticking to their judgement that a Leave vote will do damage to confidence, trade, output, house prices, property and much else. We need to remind Ministers of this, given the wish of some of them to believe the surprisingly positive figures about the economy which we are seeing. We need to help the Treasury get across the message that things will go wrong at some point in the future.

Ministers do have a concern about the continued large flows of migrants into the UK . The Treasury might be able to help here by getting out their message that the UK will no longer be able to create new jobs and provide such a favourable economic background for them. Perhaps the Treasury would set up a special unit to communicate their realistic worries about the UK out of the EU to the countries losing migrant people. This might help Ministers in their difficult task of replying to those who want more control over UK borders.

I was pleased that the PM did stress we remain full members of the EU and intend to participate fully all the time we remain members. I trust officials will put forward sensible proposals to show just how positive the UK can be in its handling of EU matters, as a counterpoint to much of the negative comment about the EU we have witnessed in recent months.”


  1. NA
    October 27, 2016

    I was very annoyed reading that. Thanks for posting.

    1. Hope
      October 27, 2016

      Dame Lucy is very grateful she has a willing pro Tory PM who will make sure the UK has associated membership of the EU (per five presidents report) by keeping institutions like the BoE (Carney) on track to scare and condition the minds of the Mitchell pleb public. Fox, and Davies will be doing dumped after a choregraphed fall out and reluctantly Boris will go along with the plan to be an associate member.

      May will revert to big state, big government, more taxes and the increased deficit will silently go back to increase further, a Tory manifest pledge gently forgotten. Mass immigration will continue have record numbers each year with more false promises of a fair nation i.e. No one can get a doctor appointment, social housing for immigrants only.

      etc ed

    2. John
      October 27, 2016

      She should be sacked immediately for working against the UK interest.

      1. LordBlagger
        October 27, 2016

        Put in charge of counting paperclips

  2. NA
    October 27, 2016

    I think that just about sums it up.

    UK will never leave EU because Brexit process ‘too complex’ is the tactic.
    Was probably always the tactic.

  3. Newmania
    October 27, 2016

    On the other hand you could just ask a couple of blokes out side the kebab shop if they think there are too many foreigners about and if they say yes throw everyone`s job in the sea.
    I have noticed a mathematical correlation between the jolliness of John Redwood and the level of the pound . It is inversely proportional
    After the conference when T. May decided we were all going to be poor Redwood was up and the pound went down simultaneously . As his position shifts form the cautious pre refendum “ Our relations will be much the same ” to the ebullient post referendum” Oh come on the single market doesn`t matter and anyway WTO will earn us tariffs woo hoo “. the pound slithers inexorably downwards .

    Of course plummeting currency is good for exports and I wondering what is going to be good about inflation next year …. Erodes our deficit dare I guess and then when interest rates go up…well of course that’s what we have needed to stabilise the pound .

    Oh yes endless scope for comedy , if you like farce. The opening night of “ Whoops There Goes My Economy” sometime in March promises to be the laugh of the century

    1. Mark Watson
      October 27, 2016

      Ok,regarding the single market…. there are any number of graphs which show that it doesn’t provide a boost to our economy and indeed many European studies confirm that. Germany is the big winner surprise surprise.
      If you want to see for yourself, have a look at Polands GDP graph before and after accession to the EU in 2004…you will see that it had no affect whatsoever on the gradient of the GDP,when it most certainly should have if the single market was so effective.

    2. Frank Salmon
      October 27, 2016

      Everyone knows the pound was overvalued.
      Everyone knows interest rates are artificially low and have been since 2010
      Everyone knows inflation at low levels is acceptable
      Everyone knows that the UK loses massively in terms of both trade and budget contributions re the EU
      Everyone knows a rebalancing of the economy and some control over immigration is necessary
      Everyone knows we can have simple Brexit or complex Brexit
      Everyone knows that complex Brexit is favoured by the Bremoners
      Except you

      1. Newmania
        October 27, 2016

        Even if the pound was overvalued, which it was not , destroying international prospects in your country is a novel way to approach tackling the issue
        Interest rates were supposed to be going up this year in a staged return to normality that has been delayed by the threat of a Brexit induced recession If you had a point , it was well hidden
        Our contribution was £8bn net, just over 1% of Government spending .
        Even if you did wish to take money away from performing parts of the economy and give it to lame ducks you wouldn`t rebalance down wards by destroying the bits that work ?
        Even if you do want control over immigration why clamp down on the part of it that provides growth , revenue to the exchequer and fits in well?

        1. libertarian
          October 28, 2016


          You just do not understand do you. You’re one of those people that think that everything is run by the central elite. It isn’t

          The pound as attested by everyone on left and right was very over valued

          No international prospects have been destroyed, why not actually look at what is actually happening rather than what you wish was happening

          You are deluded if you think that the EU could spend our money better than we can spend it ourselves, the whole of history is against you

          With control over immigration we can enhance the part that contributes to growth and revenue

          Dear oh dear you really are hard of thinking

        2. Major Plonquer
          October 29, 2016

          Greetings from an actual real international trader based in Beijing, HK and Singapore. I’ll put this as simply as possible. The pound WAS overvalued. It was overvalued because few people trusted the Euro, the dollar was oversubscribed and the GBP was and is an internationally recognised and liquid currency.

          By my estimates a GBP parity value should be between $1.20 and $1.25. Higher will hurt exports and lower is just stupid.

    3. Anonymous
      October 27, 2016

      52% – in a recent poll – say they’d sacrifice the economy to get immigration back under control. That’s hardly a few blokes outside a kebab shop.

      The recent debacle featuring ‘child’ migrants with stubble and crow feet around the eyes shows what I meant about the institutional lying which has made the people rebell (praise to them that they did it democractically, though Newmania seems to have a big problem with this.)

      Dame Lucy was caught by surprise by the referendum because the civil service believes its own lies – including the one where the majority of people *wanted* to stay in the EU.

      My finger was more on the pulse of public feeling. My only surprise was that the majority for leave was crushed from 75% (every straw poll I take) by Project Fear.

      1. Newmania
        October 27, 2016

        52% – in a recent poll – say they’d sacrifice the economy to get immigration back under control. That’s hardly a few blokes outside a kebab shop.

        Is that so. My guess would be that if you asked 100 people for £1000 each as the price of stopping immigration dead you would be lucky to get a penny.
        People don`t care about”The economy” but the very much care about their own money. Sadly about 52% of people asre too stupid to connect the two .

        Voila !

        1. Anonymous
          October 28, 2016

          We know you have a low opinion of your fellow countryman as you evince it in every comment. We know for a fact that 52% voted against warnings by George Osborne that they would be £4,300 worse off a year.

          You have an unswerving knack of being wrong.

    4. libertarian
      October 27, 2016


      You wouldn’t know economy, business or trade if it walked up and introduced itself. You post complete drivel, with no link to facts, reality or what is actually happening

      The UKs economy is growing

      We have massive number of job vacancies and the highest number in employment ever recorded

      We are about to gain control of who we welcome into the country and who we dont

      Once we are completely out of the single market and EU we can negotiate real free trade deals around the world

      The pound is gaining both against the Euro & Dollar

      The head of WTO says that Brexit will be relatively straightforward and will not hurt the UK economy

      Adobe & Google have moved their European HQ’s to London. Glaxo, Nissan , SoftBank and many others have invested billions of dollars in UK since Brexit vote

      UK banks distanced themselves from BBA chair saying they have no intention of relocating away from City

      The UK economy grew 0.5% in the quarter after Brexit vote

      Back to work Newmania…… spillage in aisle 3

      1. thicko
        October 27, 2016

        Hey Libertarian
        re spillage in aisle 3 -not funny.
        Presumably JR wouldn’t print Newmania’s posts if he didnt want some different views.Ditto poor old LifeLogic who gets slagged off for posting too much
        What is extremely funny ( or worrying ) is the amount of people on here who think Lady Lucy is real just because they read it on the internet. Don’t believe everything you read,

        1. libertarian
          October 28, 2016

          Dear Thicko

          So you have no sense of humour….never mind

          The whole point of a debate forum is to state alternative points of view, I make rude jokes about Newmania in retaliation to his posts telling us we’re all too stupid to realise how good the EU is.

          I haven’t seen any evidence that anyone thinks Lady Lucy is real

          Why not try posting something of value?

    5. Antisthenes
      October 27, 2016

      You appear to have missed the fact that Germany since it joined the euro-zone has done very well out of an undervalued currency. Undervalued for them but not for many others who use the euro.

    6. Oggy
      October 27, 2016


    7. NickC
      October 27, 2016

      Newmania, You do realise that only about 10%-11% of UK GDP consists of exports to the EU (when the Rotterdam effect is included)? That approximate figure is confirmed by the Remain position that 3 million jobs (out of a UK total of 31 million) are dependent on exports to the EU. Perhaps the Remains should start thinking about the other nine tenths of the UK economy, for a more balanced approach.

      1. Ed Mahony
        October 27, 2016

        ‘You do realise that only about 10%-11% of UK GDP consists of exports to the EU’

        – but let’s put into context, for the last 50 years or so, the UK’s average total world exports as % of GDP is 25% (don’t know what it is for this year but let’s just say around 25%).

        1. Anonymous
          October 27, 2016

          Ed – Export to the EU will not cease. Certainly not completely. And if we do better control borders and make savings on both welfare and EU contributions then any losses will be offset.

    8. Richard1
      October 27, 2016

      You have not been reading this blog long enough for your correlation to be interesting or useful. During the period 2007 -10 when the Labour govt presided over a c. 25% fall in sterling and the catastrophic bank bailout John Redwood was in a highly critical mode – quite rightly as it turned out.

    9. getahead
      October 27, 2016

      We don’t need to be governed by the Brussels Nomenklatura just to trade with the countries of Europe.
      By the way, the fall in the value of the pound has more to do with our excessive levels of debt and low interest rates than leaving the EU.

    10. Yudansha
      October 27, 2016

      Greece has full access to the Single Market does she not ?

      1. Yudansha
        October 27, 2016

        It’s the build up of snow (accumulated debt) and not the yodel (Brexit) that causes the avalanche.

  4. NA
    October 27, 2016

    EU is like the mafia. Once in, never allowed out.

    1. Ed Mahony
      October 27, 2016

      ‘EU is like the mafia. Once in, never allowed out’

      – Can we just get away from these mindless slogans that the papers use to sell copies and that politicians borrowed to win votes in the referendum. And instead just discuss things calmly, objectively, rationally.

      1. NA
        October 27, 2016

        ‘EU is like the mafia. Once in, never allowed out’

        Can we just get away from these mindless slogans that the papers use

        I don’t speak in ‘mindless slogans’ all the time, you know.

    2. Lifelogic
      October 27, 2016

      Like a malignant tumour in fact. The BBC, academia the state sector, most politicians, the legal profession, the CBI and some large businesses that benefit from the various legislation rackets are all hugely infected.

  5. The Active Citizen
    October 27, 2016

    Very amusing. One of the most powerful tools in deflating pompous and arrogant nonsense is humour. A good start to the day, thank you.

  6. zorro
    October 27, 2016

    Haha…. You are a bad man Mr Redwood. Dame Lucy needs to be retired and quickly! And no Newmania, you can’t have her job……


  7. NA
    October 27, 2016

    I have noticed a mathematical correlation between the jolliness of John Redwood and the level of the pound .

    That’s why top FOREX traders read this blog.

  8. Michael Cluer
    October 27, 2016

    That instruction is a disgraceful attempt at sabotaging a democratic decision , it should be published openly to reveal the disregard held by some for the referendum result.

  9. Mark B
    October 27, 2016

    Good morning.

    Sounds sensible. Covers a lot of issues here. One worrying aspect though ? I do not like the idea of Civil Servants talking to their opposite colleagues in the EU. Needs more Ministerial oversight in that area me thinks.

  10. Richard Preston
    October 27, 2016

    Dame Lucy is absolutely right. Anyone who considered our relationship with the EU from a standpoint of pragmatism and long term economic benefits, instead of Pollyanna thinking and blind prejudice, would agree with every word.

  11. Henry
    October 27, 2016

    Well some of these characters work in precisely that way. “Yes of course we’ll server the government in an entirely impartial way. However, let me point out this particular problem, and this one. Oh and there’s this difficulty. We mustn’t be ‘rushed into’ this ‘disruptive’ process, because the referendum result was so ‘UNEXPECTED'” (for God’s sake…)

    They’ll delay for all they’re worth – whish is another way of saying they won’t do their jobs properly. Theresa May will have been expecting this nonsense.

    October 27, 2016

    The Gordion Knot.

    We should never have turned our swords in ploughshares.The Civil Service was born when there were more than ten fingers worth of turnips to count.

  13. stred
    October 27, 2016

    Addendum. It is possible that, during this essential period of delay, inward migration may increase, as many of our European citizens will realize that it will be the last chance for the lower paid to contribute to our relatively successful economy, indeed their numbers have helped to keep our GDP figures healthy for many years. It is important that we keep the methods of assessment of these figures as presently guessed, using port interviews asking whether a sample of foreign passport holders whether they will be staying in the UK for over a year or, hopefully, going home for Christmas. Any move to publish or use the unfortunately and no doubt inaccurate National Insurance card numbers would bemost unwelcome.This should be explained to ministers, who will no doubt understand that undermining their previous use of verbal surveys would be embarassing. It was encouraging to read the recent revelations of minister keen support for the benefits of the EU.

    1. stred
      October 27, 2016

      omit- whether they.

  14. Mark Watson
    October 27, 2016

    I hope some national newspapers get hold of this.

  15. David in England
    October 27, 2016

    Thank you for this very helpful post. I’ve no doubt it was quoted word for word from the actual advice being given to civil servants.

  16. Ex-expat Colin
    October 27, 2016

    Ok, assess the risks and quickly. Whats major and minor and deal with them. Tell the EU to quit any hostilities and grow up. UK did not treat them that way in two world wars…bit of an insult really.

    Its a concern…as is NATO!

  17. Denis Cooper
    October 27, 2016

    Your secret source has lost the last paragraph encouraging colleagues to keep the faith and hope for better times once the government has come to its senses and decided to neutralise the democratic vote on June 23rd, on the grounds that after all it was only advisory and the people have given such bad advice that it is best ignored.

    1. acorn
      October 27, 2016

      Spot on Denis

  18. Martin pope
    October 27, 2016

    Time Dame Lucy and her type move on

  19. bratwurst
    October 27, 2016

    Good to see the civil service is developing a good understanding of the process even though our politicians are way behind the curve and still have very little understanding of the complexity of the relationships they have pushed us into and what is needed to develop a new relationship with the EU.

  20. Ian Wragg
    October 27, 2016

    Spot on. Knowing your enemies tactics nullyfies them. We should be extra vigilant to prevent the 5th column of the establishment thwarting our wishes
    I see we’re posturing again over Russia with our 3 ships and 6 planes. Apped
    Not such a good idea now too have strapped most of the armed forces.
    Cameron Osborne and Clogg should be had for treason

    1. Ian Wragg
      October 27, 2016


  21. Tony Hart
    October 27, 2016

    This is typical of a jobsworth. Leaving is simple; we just do it. The EU needs to negotiate how we continue to trade with them, because of the huge trade deficit. They want us, not us them!!

  22. Denis Cooper
    October 27, 2016

    Interesting geographical distribution of the 5,839 signatures on this petition calling for a referendum on throwing Scotland out of the UK:


    Seems that almost all of the petitioners are located in Scotland.

  23. me3
    October 27, 2016

    A written confession to treason?

  24. Jane !oirhouse
    October 27, 2016

    Thank you for that. What a depressing report. So wrapped up in the minutiae and not looking at the bigger picture. Surely repealing the Act is simple in itself accepting that once we are in control it will be gradually unravelled, keeping those rules which are beneficial And getting rid of the silly little rules which hamper our business. This large task will create employment. Matters beneficial to both EU and GB such as security on the ground and in the air won’t change. Getting rid of CAP and reinstating our fishing industry as well as the millions we send to the EU will make a huge difference. That leaves the single market and finance. We need to negotiate within the constraints of the vote, controlling borders and that is what Mrs May is working towards. I feel that the people who are so desperate to stay in the EU are more interested in their own vested interests and not those of the UK.

  25. alan jutson
    October 27, 2016

    Can someone not simply sack the Dame Lucy’s of this World, for failing to carry out instructions.


    Do we need to sack the Minister in charge of her Department for not giving her the correct instructions.

    The real Joke is that these type of people are allowed to exist and draw taxpayers money, rather like those who were responsible for the farcical arrangement with the so called Calais children.

    Dumb and Dumber springs to mind.

  26. Euleaver
    October 27, 2016

    Here I was all these years thinking Yes Minister was an exaggerated comedy. Apparently it was a documentary, and nothing has changed since. The civil service appear to be our own version of the EU commission, making policy, unaccountable and unelected.

  27. fedupsoutherner
    October 27, 2016

    UNBELIEVABLE! No wonder it is all taking so long. I am convinced now that we will never be free of the EU and our vote was for nothing. Utter farce. These faceless wonders need kicking up the backside.

  28. MickN
    October 27, 2016

    Well John I can only hope that the person that sent you that has also copied the supporting newspapers and the Prime Ministers office. It is an absolute outrage. Who do these people answer to and how can they be held to account?

  29. Geoff not Hoon
    October 27, 2016

    In a business sense I hope never come across the person/s who negotiated the terms should we wish to leave the EU. If we saw it on Yes Minister wouldn’t we respond ‘I don’t believe it’.
    Dame Lucy as ever at her best Mr.R.

  30. Peter Wood
    October 27, 2016

    Mr. Redwood, I do hope your efforts for Brexit are not delayed by your dark humour…

    Can you kindly ask how much the UK paid to France to clear the Jungle?

    Thank you.

    1. Bob
      October 27, 2016

      @Peter Wood

      “kindly ask how much the UK paid to France to clear the Jungle?”

      I read that UK’s share was £36m, enough to buy each one of the illegal immigrants a 1st class airfare home.

  31. Denis Cooper
    October 27, 2016

    I see Daniel Hannan has gone a bit astray today:


    “Britain and the EU will start from a position of zero tariffs, and moving away from the status quo is more tiresome than retaining it.”

    That should be correct, in fact post-referendum the previously doom-mongering boss of the IMF now agrees with that; as almost entirely* the only need would be to put the existing trade on a new legal footing there should be no realistic comparison with the difficulty of striking deals designed to free up trade like CETA.

    However while his next sentence:

    “None of the EU’s national leaders seriously wants a trade war with the state that, on departure, will be their biggest customer.”

    should also be correct apparently it is not; as Philip Hammond has acknowledged:


    we are dealing with ideologues who may well be willing to ignore the economics and launch a trade war on political, or more exactly geopolitical, grounds.

    After all that is just what they did about the euro, they put the geopolitics above the economics, and clearly they don’t much care what economic destruction they have wrought across Europe for the sake of their fanatical eurofederalism.

    Advocates of the EU should not feel any pride about this, but obviously some do take a perverse pride in it and gloat over the economic damage these lunatics may cause.

    * Unless the initial deal extends to agricultural products and includes the UK leaving the Common Agricultural Policy, which will create complications.

  32. a-tracy
    October 27, 2016

    When good news appears it is dulled down the very next sentence and I’m getting sick of it. Wages UP (BUT only the lowest paid workers) oh and prices are going to go up, the wages went up last April but let’s not have any good news, more people than ever in work (but not in jobs they want to be in) and on and on and on.

    Just how many migrants are we accommodating each year, I heard Scotland took and homed nearly 3,000 alone so what is London’s figure? And I don’t mean in tent slums like the French seem to get away with for years on end (I mean finding rooms and homes for).

    What happens when the refugees get here, when can they start to work, the adults not the children of course? How many of the child refugees are in school and where are they? I heard in the newspapers that a man in Birmingham lived on State handouts for seven years (the ex-fighter), the one whose son was coming to join him? What is the story on this? If we are making a success of integration shouldn’t we be celebrating this instead of celebrities constantly criticising our Country and our people, most of us feel we are a very generous Country but you wouldn’t think so to listen to the news.

    We hear poverty is rising and food banks and homelessness? Is this because of British people getting displaced from homes they had in the UK and kicked out to accommodate incoming families? Where have all the social houses come from that have accommodated refugees, we constantly talk about Council houses not being built but how many Housing Association houses have been built? Housing Associations took over entire Council Housing stock in my area each home was bought for a paltry £7500 are they investing in building new homes or not?

    Let’s start getting on with some real questions rather than the stupid Baldrick comments. May is dithering mate, she has made her statement and kicked the ball into the long grass and given a date, nothing dithery about that.

    1. a-tracy
      October 27, 2016

      should be May isn’t dithering,

    2. a-tracy
      October 27, 2016

      should be ‘May isn’t dithering’,

  33. Oli B
    October 27, 2016

    In summary, then:
    “We need to remind ministers that despite the mandate of the electorate this is still not a good idea and we should do everything we can to slow, obfuscate and if possible prevent this from happening. The sunk cost of all our hard efforts over the years chumming up to EA commissioners is not something I am willing to countenance. We need to stress how upset EU is and how difficult they are going to make it and we should not try to defend our decision nor come up with any creative ways of supporting ministers in fulfilling the mandate they have been given to exit the EU.”

  34. David Murfin
    October 27, 2016

    I hear Dame Lucy is soon to remarry, to Lord Tellem Latale.

  35. Edward.
    October 27, 2016

    I really baulk at some commenters, if you were daft enough to believe them, then UK membership of the EU is, the be all and end all, an economic panacea to cure all financial ills.

    Yeah right, how’s that going then, in EUroland? Plus, some time in the very near future – who can say when and what will occur but the portents are to say the least a tad unfavourable and verging on financial implosion.

    Can we do better out of the strait jacket of the customs union?

    The ‘Single market’ – don’t make me laugh – there never has been a ‘single market’ “free movement of goods and capital”………not if you hold Greek €euros it’s not. Thus, the pie-in-the-sky a ‘single market’ it’s always been an impossible dream insofar as the EU was concerned but by God we have to put up with its sclerotic regulation, onerous diktat and external tariffs slapped on aught and everything and not least subject to foreign rule of the ECJ-ECHR – how does that help BRITAIN?

    A crony capitalist, the other night on the beeb – Ken Clarke was telling us, how remaining in the ‘single market’ will help the good people of Hartlepool, and lo! someone please explain to me how? HOW after 43 years of the Germans cleaning up – a centralization which always dictates economies of scale and thanks to some incredible skewed EU market jiggerypokery and not least, the emissions limitation policies which have accelerated a forced scorched earth deindustrialization. Tell me Ken and other comedians, how has our membership of the EU benefited Hartlepool, Middlesborough, indeed, the industrial heartland of Britain?

    If they [EU] want to trade, then trade it is, if they wish to continue to dictate, insist on the four freedoms “Freedoms” oh God now that is funny veritably Monet was a clown and comedian…..De le grand projet; to enforce upon us the federal superstate ie dissolving nations and nationalities, press terms, pass ridiculous laws etc ed

  36. ChrisS
    October 27, 2016

    If the Government wins the court case and delivers the Article 50 declaration we will have to be tough and very determined :

    It’s obvious that an unholy alliance of Remainers, European politicians and Brussels Apparatchiks will be doing everything they can to ensure we stay in Hotel California mode.

  37. NoMoreEU
    October 27, 2016

    No widespread coverage on the good news, concerning the positive statement by the WTO.

    It was an interview by Sky but I can’t find a headline article anywhere.

    BBC website -nothing
    ITV website – nothing

    Censorship is alive and well!

  38. oldtimer
    October 27, 2016

    In my working life the thinking set out by Dame Lucy was described as “paralysis by analysis”. It was wheeled out by those seeking to frustrate a decision or to prevent a future course of action. That thinking is evident today in several sectors of public life.

    The business correspondent on BBC Breakfast got a nasty surprise this morning when interviewing people about the economic outlook. The first, an economist, managed to put a relatively gloomy spin on what to expect next year. But the two business representatives, actually at the sharp end of making and selling stuff, said they were investing and selling well abroad post Brexit, helped by sterling devaluation. One even had the temerity to point out that his business sells to lots of countries outside the EU and single market. Dealing with rules and regulations “comes with the territory” of being an exporter around the world. Active UK exporters, like their successful German counterparts, just get on with it.

  39. alan jutson
    October 27, 2016

    Hi John

    Was it Dame Lucy who was responsible for the Proposals to extend Heathrow ?

    To demolish 800 houses, divert the A4, build a runway on a bridge over the M25, or to rebuild the M25 in a tunnel under the new runway, and increase massively noise and traffic in the area.

    Have driven under the runway bridge at Charles de Gaulle airport when aircraft are crossing, and it is a huge distraction for motorists.

    A tunnel or bridge at this point also means a possible pinch point on the M25 which cannot be widened without huge cost and disruption in future years.

    Find it difficult to believe that there is not a better alternative to expanding Heathrow.

  40. LE Hutson
    October 27, 2016

    Just a couple of comments:

    1) Transport yourself back to the 1960s and the Kennedy Space Center, and the Americans trying to put a man on the moon – how do you think they would have viewed someone sitting around, writing letters about how ‘complicated’ everything was. This is why we need some Brexiteers at the helm to say ‘yes, it’s complicated, now get on with it.’

    2) And when we have done the impossible, the escape from Euralcatraz, I reckon we can make some lucrative consultancy fees from advising other countries on the complexities of leaving. But hearing the constant menace and bile from Brussels, maybe we should consider offering this service for free.

  41. NoMoreEU
    October 27, 2016


    There are people out there who actually believe this fun article!

    Please put a footnote at the bottom – to explain to those who don’t recognise humour.

    Many thanks

    1. LibDem
      October 27, 2016

      What do you mean?

  42. Oggy
    October 27, 2016

    Disgraceful and disgusting. This is nothing more than treachery from within.
    Who does she answer to ? what kind of democracy do we live in that the will of the people is just so casually dismissed and ignored ?
    Question for Dr Redwood, – just who does run this country ?

    1. turboterrier
      October 27, 2016

      @ Oggy

      Evidently not the politicians!!!

  43. Know-dice
    October 27, 2016

    Mrs Humphrey needs to be sacked, it’s not difficult or complicated – unless the UK Civil Service wishes it to be for their own ends and empire building…and it sounds like she is positively encouraging her “minions” to undermine the Government at every step…that is just not acceptable…she needs to go and be replaced by somebody who is willing to work in a positive way for the good of the country. We all know that a long drawn-out exit from the EU (not Europe) doesn’t do either them [the EU] or us any favours.

    The Great Repeal Bill just needs to say – “Everything stays as is, until individually repealed”…simples

  44. English Pensioner
    October 27, 2016

    Over the past few weeks I’ve watched the re-run on the BBC of “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister”. The programmes haven’t aged and clearly things are still happening exactly as they were then, with the Civil Service, not the Ministers, in control.
    A new series about Brexit, showing all the Eurocrats ducking and diving would be superb, but it is not something that could be made by the Remoaners at the BBC.

  45. ian
    October 27, 2016

    Nice to have two government instead of one, happy voting.

  46. Antisthenes
    October 27, 2016

    Many a truth is said in jest and I would suggest your article today is one of them. It is not difficult to imagine that is exactly what is going through the minds of top civil servants. They must be rubbing their hands in glee at how they can spin out Brexit and milk it for all it’s worth. No doubt remainers to a man/woman.

    Anything can be made complicated if the will to do so is there or if the wrong people with the wrong attitude are employed to deal with it. As we are saddled with both these problems then if Brexit is to be a success then the civil service has to be reined to the will of the people or they will thwart that will. To do that it will be the job of ministers from the PM down. We know we can count on a few to do that but some we cannot because of issues of loyalty and some because of lack of competence. Brexit is going to be a fraught and testing time.

    Your Brexit strategy of leave and then untangle has to be adopted as then it does not matter how complicated or how long it takes. EU influence on anything new stops immediately and we are completely divorced from any integration process. Much will stay the same visa vie with the EU as it would anyway during negotiations except the UK would now be free to take it’s own path domestically and with the rest of the world.

    It would of course be a unilateral declaration of independence which would be mitigated by retaining most of our EU obligations. Brussels would have to respond. The ECJ would not be much good it would no longer have jurisdiction. Maybe international law will be invoked so plans to deal with that will have to be made. So they would have to set out what their response will be. No doubt they will wish it to be harsh but I believe the more pragmatic heads of member states will dilute it. At least we will know their opening bargaining position and they will know ours except ours will be stronger because our is settle it amicably or we will just walk away.

  47. MPC
    October 27, 2016

    Before the referendum there was a piece on Voteleave’s website explaining that actual departure would/should not be rushed – presumably to reassure any waverers. Despite the media’s efforts to identify bad news which can be put down to Brexit, even though Brexit hasn’t even started yet, I’m trying to stay optimistic given that even Brussels still expects us to leave. However, the longer this goes on the more worrying it gets. Can you assure us that all of your behind the scenes efforts are still paying off in terms of keeping up the momentum towards actual Brexit in as short a timescale as possible?

  48. Iain Gill
    October 27, 2016

    Can you ask her view on our fishing grounds?


  49. Chris S
    October 27, 2016

    The inconvenient truth !

    “UK economy defies Brexit slowdown fears”

    This morning the Guardianisters must have written this headline with gritted teeth and there was worst to come :

    This morning Nissan confirmed it will build both the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV at its Sunderland plant, showing once again that the prophets of doom were just plain wrong. Could any more humiliation possibly be heaped on Osbourne ?

    If there is any more good news, even Toynbee and Soubrey and will have to shut up.
    But don’t hold your breath waiting for them to accept the inevitable !

    1. Ed Mahony
      October 27, 2016

      As a Remainer (in favour of strong reform of the EU), i hear you loud and clear, and Remainers must acknowledge this good news and get behind Brexit (however, we can still challenge about genuine concerns, and keep our politicians on their toes).

      1. Sir Joe Soap
        October 27, 2016

        Just think about it as having your credit card for use by you only, rather than sharing it with the rest of the street. Yes there are concerns that you might not get invited to the next sherry party, but that probably means you were only invited in the first place because you were paying off the credit card.

        1. Ed Mahony
          October 27, 2016

          Analogy not that good i think, because in reality the EU only has access to a little over 0.5% of this credit card you mention.
          And in return for this, you get access to single market, passports, making the UK attractive to investors as a bridge into the EU, and the geopolitical benefits of building up prosperity, peace and security in our geographical region of Europe which all benefits the UK in the medium to long-term, not just in terms of peace and security, but in terms of our economy as well.
          These are the pros, there are cons as well. And I agree, the EU does need reforming, in particular on immigration. Leaving the EU also opens up cans of worms such as destabilising the union, Brits no longer being able to buy houses easily in places such as Spain, France and Italy, and more.
          Would also say, being inside the EU doesn’t prohibit us from selling outside the EU! There are lots of successful UK businesses and brands already doing that! However, being inside the EU helps those companies that struggle to sell further afield for all kinds of reasons – it’s easier and cheaper to meet clients in Europe than halfway across the world, there are cultural similarities (I mean it’s easier to do business in Holland, Scandinavia or Germany say than it is say in Japan), cheaper to export to Europe than half across the world, and more.

          Reply Why did Scottish nationalism surge when we were in the EU? Why is the EU the only part of the world we run a huge deficit with if it is so easy to export there?

          1. Ed Mahony
            October 27, 2016

            ‘Leaving the EU also opens up cans of worms’ – also, and most importantly of all, an ugly form of nationalism (not necessarily and most Brexitteers are decent people, talking about a minority of people here – but a minority that is loud and troublesome) and an inward-way of looking at ourselves which only makes us smaller, not bigger-minded, people. There is plenty of evidence of that today. And I’m afraid the great reputation we have (in Europe and elsewhere), gained from Churchill and others achieved in WW2, is quickly eroding.

    2. Newmania
      October 27, 2016

      Yes and what have we had to promise Nissan to stay in about the worst place you can think of to export cars to Europe ..thats your money folks
      The effort of the Brexit government is to put everything off until the door is slammed .Scrutiny, information , major events ( like Nissan) a recession( which as JR points out has been averted not merely by Carney but jointly with the Chancellor ) , parliamentary accountability natch.
      This will be like Iraq, at the time anyone querying it will be hushed impatiently , later, when people discover what people knew when they knew it there will be hell to pay.
      ( Redders will slip quietly away with some tale about how it would all have worked if everyone had done precisely as he , at some stage , recommended.)

      1. Iain Gill
        October 27, 2016

        It’s not that bad a place for a car plant, lots of cars come and go at Tyneside docks. Although other Renault/Nissan group plants like the ones in Romania with always undercut it. Although they can flood the Sunderland workforce with cheap Romanians thanks to the EU even though vast estates in Sunderland are basically jobless. Couldn’t make it up.

      2. Sir Joe Soap
        October 27, 2016

        I think you’ll find that that Mr Redwood and most of the other contributors here are the ones which are being hushed impatiently. The words “despite Brexit” really sum it all up and make many of us here angry. WHY DESPITE??? It assumes a position where the majority who voted Leave are or will actually regret their decision. WHY SHOULD THEY DO THIS?

        Perhaps we should say that “despite apparently being well educated, many broadcasters appear to not be able to think for themselves”.

      3. Sir Joe Soap
        October 27, 2016

        It was “your money, folks” going to build empty roads in Sicily. You’d rather it went there than Sunderland, I presume?

    3. Iain Gill
      October 27, 2016

      This despite much bigger problems like Sunderland council thinning down the road into town from the Nissan plant and reducing the speed limit from 70, the road having be like that specifically so that Nissan could road test the occasional vehicle at the national limit and so their execs could get to and from the local centre of population quickly (part of the original deal of putting the plant there). And also since Sunderland council has seen fit to shutdown normal business in much of the North of the city by having another “illumination” session where they have seen fit to shut many roads, if its not the stupid air show, yet another marathon, fireworks, or Christmas lights its a bloomin “illuminations” which shuts down so much business with the massive disruption to travel for everyone. Labour council that knows how to waste money and cause mass disruption to business on a grand scale. They even have a light tribute to their grand waste of a fountain costing half a million quid on a roundabout, which only lasted a few weeks as it caused so many car crashed as the wind blew water onto the road.

      You couldn’t make it up.

  50. formula57
    October 27, 2016

    I had hoped these leaks had stopped as they tend to occur when the government is lacking direction or worse is failing.

    As even the Leader of the Opposition was able to expose, the government is dithering in the apparent absence of any worthwhile plan and Dame Lucy Doolittle’s instructions to her colleagues (that of themselves make her a candidate surely to become Ms Doolittle ere long?) reveal just how easily it will be to obstruct those who lack determination and focus.

    Aside from jeopardizing the deliverance represented by the Brexit vote and costing us c.£850 million each month that passes and fostering uncertainty and doubt where there should be clarity and resolve, the government’s weak approach is squandering opportunities, not least as no-one seems to be tasked with identifying and exploiting them as they will arise in a post-Brexit world.

    Soon after the referendum result was announced, you called for a Brexit government. It is past time you were heeded, clearly.

  51. Ed Mahony
    October 27, 2016

    As a Remainer (but wanting strong reform of the EU) i want to acknowledge the good news about the economy doing well (although how would it be doing if we were still in the EU?), and also the great news about Nissan in Sunderland (although have to ask at what price – what deal has Mrs May made with the head of Nissan).
    I hope Brexit works. But I strongly think we’re still going to have to contribute to the EU, whether Brexit works out great or not. Because by contributing to the EU we’re contributing to the geopolitical future of the continent, that affects us in terms of economics, peace and security.

  52. NickC
    October 27, 2016

    John, Wherever did you find such an unbiased view of Brexit from among the civil servants? What with Messrs Hamfisted and Carnage at the levers (ha!) it’s a wonder we have any economy left.

  53. Peter D Gardner
    October 27, 2016

    Being an administrator and manager rather than a leader, Mrs May is highly susceptible to the Dame Doolittles, which permeate her advisers. She will want to be loyal to them and use them to protect her from the public barbs being aimed at her. UKRep in Brussels went native a long time ago. So too the London based civil service has become a colonial office of the EU Commission – the EU is far bigger, more challenging and worthwhile than the paltry concerns of UK, like the reversionary independence movement in Scotland – a bunch of peasants by any measure, and who cares for heavens sake? – and where’s the career in that? No, Europe is where it’s at.

    Again as an administrator and manager, Mrs May is indulging in paralysis by analysis. UK needs incisive leadership to cut through the nonsense, the optimisers. No successful commander in political or military strategy has ever had perfect information. UK needs a prime minister with leadership qualities, a vision of where to take Britain as an independent sovereign nation, the insight to see how to cut through the porridge of advice and uncertainty served up by inadequate advisers and the grit to act decisively and the determination to see it through to completion.

    It is said, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Well, where is he?

  54. ian
    October 27, 2016

    I dare say that the two governments will be looking after the few instead of the many as usual, ie banks, big business and of cos the elite and they will make sure it cost you a petty penny .

  55. Kevin Lohse
    October 27, 2016

    Delicious. Posted to Facebook.

  56. WingsOverTheWorld
    October 27, 2016

    The Dame is entitled to her opinion, but that is all it is – opinion. What is troubling to me is that she is spouting a number of assumptions as facts and expecting the Civil Service to follow them without question. Its her position and the abuse of such to pursue her own political agenda which may not align with the elected leadership, that is the real issue here.

  57. David Edwards
    October 27, 2016

    The referendum has certainly revealed some domestic problems, allegorically or otherwise, with our decision making process. Now revealed, it’s actually dealing with these problems that I suspect will take time and considerable diligence by our parliament to correct, if it is even correctable.

  58. forthurst
    October 27, 2016

    “…going into detail about replacement regimes in agriculture, fishing, competition law, aviation and many other areas which will need certainty.”

    Not convinced that Dame Lucy is giving good advices here; there will certainly need to be parallel legislation to fill the void, but some of this legislation could actually be brought forward and passed before we leave subject to an effective date of when we leave. People would then be able to get a positive vision of how our e.g. agriculture and fisheries will be markedly improved by leaving and it will also underline the fact that these are non-negotiable areas for which people can start preparing well in advance; they are also areas where any opposition in parliament would be extremely unpopular thus setting a precedent.

  59. John McDonald
    October 27, 2016

    What ever one’s view is on Brexit, at least it has shown how undemocratic the civil service is and likewise a lot of MP’s. And we point out the lack of democracy in Russia and China. Perhaps “Yes Minister” is not too far from reality after all.

  60. Hereforthebeer
    October 27, 2016

    If Dame Lucy Doolittle becomes a little overwrought in a pub and the unlicensed and untrained muscular bouncer ( doorman ) tells her to get out of the pub ( Leave…Pubexit ) she must not wait around and ask “What does Pubexit actually mean?”

  61. Dioclese
    October 27, 2016

    And there was me thinking that the Government was swept into power by the General Election?

    1. Iain Gill
      October 27, 2016

      Swept into power by fear of an SNP/labour coalition.
      Not because they were any good themselves.
      And lying through their teeth on immigration control too to get votes.

  62. hans chr iversen
    October 27, 2016

    I think Dame Lucy explains it exceedingly well and in a very structured manner and it is much more complicated than we all imagined and it will take 5 to 7 years to make this all work again no matter which way we leave the EU.

    To say that the economy is holding up well, with a depreciation of the pound of 18% which will hit the weakest in society first with inflation, is not only naïve but plain stupid we will all end of paying for this very silly decision and talking differently about how well we are doing is just naïve or something worse. Look at the trade balance and government dificit

    1. getahead
      October 27, 2016

      We’ll manage Hans, just as long as we get back our freedom from the odious and expensive EU.
      ps. Not sure that the trade balance and government dificit (sic) have been helped by EU membership. Lets see how we manage once we are free of all its encumbrances.

  63. R
    October 27, 2016

    This reeks of public sector. If you want a double dose of pious arrogance, watch todays Daily Politics interview with Baroness Wheatcroft. Every word of hers dripping in a mix of impatience and affronted sanctimony, as if the Butler has dared proffer his argument whilst serving her dinner party guests.

  64. David Cockburn
    October 27, 2016

    Very disappointing GDP numbers today. (if you are a Remainder) It appears that the economy grew by 0.5% in the latest quarter and that we’ll be hard pushed to have a recession at all despite the efforts of the BoE to push down the exchange rate.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      October 27, 2016

      Mainly in services which are less affected by Brexit. Anyway, clearly businesses are increasing their activity now in preparation for the downturn which is right on our doorstep. You don’t want to be caught with all that high priced inventory when 3 million people have lost their jobs and are unable to buy it. Sell it cheap, now!

      No, the exchange rate would have actually been far lower had not our BOE governor have fearlessly reduced interest rates and injected £170 billion into the economy.

      Now the government is doing sweetheart deals with the car industry in a desperate attempt to keep a few wheels turning. Boy, we’ll need those cars when the French and Germans refuse to make and send them to the UK!

      Thanks goodness we have experts at hand who know how bad it could have been!

  65. fedupsoutherner
    October 27, 2016

    So, Dame Lucy Doolittle is a made up person! Maybe so, but I am sure there are some in the civil service that think this way and will make things difficult just because they can.

    1. Oggy
      October 27, 2016

      I didn’t realise it was April 1st already !
      Darn it ! I must have missed the triggering of Article 50 yesterday.

  66. Sean
    October 27, 2016

    Yet more and more feet dragging, just take us out before we gave to folk out for the German bank or whatever else the dream up we gave to pay by for.

  67. NoMoreEU
    October 27, 2016

    I was outraged after reading this article.

    Absolutely incandescent with rage.

    How very dare Dame Lucy say this!

    Oh my days!…The Fifth Column is truly flourishing within our own ranks.

    Have you heard, on the grapevine, about the reaction of Dr Roy Spendlove to this conceit…sorry…this missive from Dame Lucy?

    Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

  68. But recurring
    October 27, 2016

    We have grown old prematurely listening to Remainers saying in various ways they respect the Leave Vote only to end their acceptance with BUT and then go on to relate how they have no respect for democracy and the Will of the British people whatsoever BUT since the Nissan secured jobs announcement and the news of 0.5% Growth for the last quarter, their BUTs have become a nervous hysteric finally-know-they-have-lost stuttering Butbutbutbutbutbut

  69. getahead
    October 27, 2016

    I presume John, this is all tongue in cheek.

  70. Embalmer
    October 28, 2016

    Couldn’t the studio audiences of BBC Question Time be rounded up, and, well, something done with them?

  71. Lesley Barker
    October 28, 2016

    I agree with a friend of mine who said it sounded more like “Mr. Humphries” to him. I think this would be a good time to resurect “Yes Minister”…….

  72. Jack iddon
    October 29, 2016

    If this woman remains in post we, theUK, deserve everything we get!

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