Relations with the civil service

The theory is straightforward. Ministers decide on policies they wish to see implemented, or identify problems that need government solutions. Civil servants advise on the best ways of implementing a policy or solving a problem. Ministers decide between these options and civil servants get on, implement and administer the policy.

Civil servants can  refuse to implement only if the Minister is wanting to do something  illegal or contrary to the agreed view of the government. They are not meant to let their own personal preferences and political views get in the way of carrying out a governing party Manifesto or the agreed wishes of the Cabinet or  of a Minister with devolved power.

It is further agreed that only Ministers speak to the public and Parliament to explain and defend the policies and actions of the government, with the exceptions that civil servants may be employed as spokesmen and women to put across the agreed government policy in off the record briefings or occasionally as  nominated experts on the record. Ministers do not reveal what advice they were given and civil servants do not brief out their views on the advice and on how the Minister took the decision.

This system sometimes breaks down. Ministers can let fly about civil servants and civil servants can brief against Ministers. Throughout our period in the EU our membership of the EU has created a substantial tension  between Ministers wanting to govern the country and a civil service keen to maximise the constraints the EU imposes on self government.

The civil service as a whole admires the EU and likes the behind closed doors approach to legislating in the Council. Ministers are often told they cannot carry out their promises or meet the wishes of many UK voters because to do so would violate some EU Directive or regulation or Treaty requirement.  When I was a Minister and since then the civil service preferred method of dealing with the EU is to find out what it wants to do next and tell Ministers they should welcome it  or go along with it.

The current rows between Ministers and officials are related to the wish of the majority of the public to “take back control”. The paradox is the civil service does not wish to do this, but has used every opportunity in the last three and half years to try to recreate many features of current EU governance once we have “left”. Instead of preparing us for the opportunities of exit they have run a Remain based Project Fear machine. We have seen the results in  some published statements and reviews, and in leaks. Much of it is shoddy and alarmist, unrelated to the reality of what is likely to happen.

So we have the Home Office trying to dilute the borders policy to recreate free movement of people. We have the Treasury trying to bake Maastricht debt controls, the austerity policy, back into a domestic version. We have some in  the Environment Department trying to perpetuate EU fishing and farming policies. We have some Defence and Foreign office officials wanting to bind the UK into common defence procurement and more common operations with EU forces to make a European army  more feasible. We have Trade and FCO officials not wanting a US trade deal for fear of it annoying the EU. There are of course many able and good individual civil servants and some who do like Brexit, but overall the civil service wants to take no risks by the UK doing something the EU may not approve.

It is this culture of EU best and EU first that some good Ministers are trying to change. Expect more sparks to fly. I know  which side I am on.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Then get rid of them. The PM has the power to hire and fire.
    The country is sick of these traitorous gits.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      Ian Wragg

      Using the word traitors in this context is totally out of context

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        Take a look at the behaviour of the leader of our EU negotiating team. Hardly working inthe best interests of the 17.4 million who voted to leave the EU. You can look upon him as you wish, but I would submitt that Ian’s choice of adjective as being about right. Giving him a K only added insult to the injury he did the UK.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          Govt needs to change employment legislation back to where it was. Crown servants were always diffent from other employees. Same for police and military. None of the Balire socialist agenda hidden by the false term equality.

          Why is the security services not all over the leaking? These people are a threat to national security by trying to destabilize the govt. introduce new treason legislation with retrospective powers including everyone without exemption i.e. MPs, ministers and PMs.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink


          we obviously disagree

        • Posted March 5, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you Agricola and Ian.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        They have been fighting like cats to frustrate the will of the people. What other word would you use, Bill? The level of ‘group think’ amongst the civil servants I know is quite astounding.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        It is the same context, continuing.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        No, it isn’t. It’s honest. How else would you describe someone who puts a foreign government ahead of its own interests?

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Anyone who uses their public sector office to actively undermine the expressed will of the people and of an elected government in favour of a foreign power block can hardly be described as loyal to their country.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Misguided, big state, pro EU, dire lefties is perhaps a better description for these misnamed “civil servants”. But anyone who voted for the Hillary Benn act is clearly a grade one traitor and the house is stuffed with them. Even a few Conservative ones.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Ministers can not fire civil servants. And that’s as it should be.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Then you have no democracy at all. Civil servant will continue to look after their own interests, ignore the elected politicians and not give a damn for the 80% in the private sector that they life off the backs of.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

          Having the power to hire and fire is exactly what enables the employee to bring charges of bullying and wrongful dismissal etc. Democracy rests on the principle that ministers are accountable to the people, not some employment tribunal. The democratic principle is that ministers decide, not civil servants. Otherwise they cannot be held accountable to the people. Therefore civil servants advise but must implement the decisions of ministers. This also protects civil servants.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      But he won’t. All that happens is they receive huge payoffs from the taxpayer and then pop up heading some other department a couple of weeks later. This ever revolving door in the public sector needs to be stopped but it seems no-one including Boris has either the will or the guts.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      What a pity that defamation is not a criminal offence in the UK, as it is in most civilised countries.

      The standard of public debate would be much improved if it were.

      You seem to assume that people with the knowledge and experience needed to do these jobs are two-a-penny.

      This government is discovering that they are not.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        Maybe the government needs to fish from a bigger pool with more diversity. They seem to be hobbling themselves by choosing ‘certain types’ at the exclusion of others who are more worldly wise and experienced, and therefore highly suitable. In my experience chinless wonders are too much of a pushover. Hard headed businesspeople tend to get things done.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

          Like who? Trump claims he is a hard headed businessman. And he has the distinction of being the worst president America has ever had.

          • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

            So you keep saying andy.
            But he will be elected again this year.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

            So significant proportions of a nation’s population can go collectively mad, Edward.

            We’ve seen it before and it’s happening again.

            Tell us something new.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink


            And mad as a hatter. And another liar.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            Something new would you both realising that your left wing policies are not popular with voters.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

            Andy, Trump is the best PotUS since Reagan. Though given Clinton and Obama, that’s admittedly a low bar.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      And I know which side I am on with many others. Keep at it.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Alas employers (both in the state sector and the private sector) have insufficient powers to fire poor staff and often get huge damages awarded against them when they do act. The result is that poor and even dangerous staff continue to work on often for very many years. Perhaps incompetently teaching, judging, train or bus driving, running departments or even doing medical operations on unfortunate patients.

      The rules need to change. Some state are actually trying to be so useless that they get paid off.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      At the forefront of Boris’ mind must be the words ‘drain the swamp’. The Tories had lots of chances to correct this anomaly, but the former leadership wasn’t up to the task. I’m hopeful we’ll now get some movement and put right-minded people into these exalted positions, who fight with us and not against us, constantly throwing obstacles in our path.

      It’s almost as if these Blairite pro-EU stoolies never went away! I bet I could get rid of them! Perhaps Mr Cummings should give me a call.

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        Draining the swamp is going to be very messy and take a very long time. It is important that we get shot of EU interference asap so we can devote all our energies to rebuilding our capacity for sovereign self government. This is far more important than deals with the EU or other countries. Until the swamp is drained most government policies will be distorted and not serve our sovereign interests to the full.
        So no 1, get shot of the EU.
        No 2. Drain the Westminster swamp, area by area, probably Home Office or Treasury first, then Foreign Office, then Agriculture, fish, environment, then trade and industry.
        No 3. Enact new patriotic pro UK policies successively in each cleansed and disinfected area.

    • Posted March 3, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Making his first appearance in front of the home affairs select committee, Dr Reid admitted his department was failing to deliver as he refused to rule out the dismissal of immigration officials in light of a “tidal wave” of scandals.
      “Our system is not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes,” he told MPs. – Guardian 2006

      Have things changed ?

  2. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Another day, another load of old twaddle about the EU. The EU’s “behind closed doors approach to legislating”? That would be why the European Parliament has open debates and every single vote in public would it? Honestly, we left the EU weeks ago, would you stop obsessing about it? You live in the past

    Reply The Council of Ministers is a main part of the legislature and meets in secret

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Sir JR

      Henry Jailer has a point move on.
      And yes the Council of Ministers meet in secret but they do represent the majority of the electorate from their home-base and they should in the council of ministers.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        Who elected them?
        The Council is a number of civil servants.
        The external heads of member nations only meet a few times a year as the Council.

        Anyway bill as you know the real power is in the hands of the Commission.
        Did you vote for any of them?

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          Edward 2

          this is actually not always the case nor is it the case in the negotiations with us on leaving

          • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

            What do you mean its not always the case.
            It is the EU’s system.
            It doesn’t change.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          Who elected the President of the UK Law Commission?

          The UK has more unelected presidents than does the European Union.

          Its supreme power is the Council not of ministers anyway, but the one of the twenty-seven leaders.

          They are subject to democratic process.

          • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

            Absolute nonsense.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

            President of the Law Commission
            President of the Board of Trade.
            Lord President of the Council – Rees Mogg
            President of the Supreme Court.
            President of the Queen’s Bench Division

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

            You should read Tony Benn on his dealings with the EU. It might open your eyes

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

            Martin, “Democratic process”?? Not within the EU they’re not. And not outside the EU for the majority. The electorate in the UK, or France, have no say in Merkel’s election.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            None of your list make laws Martin.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

            Showing your ignorance yet again, Edward.

            The President of the Supreme Court, a judge, does make common law, as do the others.

            The Law Commission may propose law to Parliament, just as does the European Union’s Commission to its own parliament. Neither of them “make” it.

          • Posted March 5, 2020 at 1:49 am | Permalink

            Wrong the President doesn’t make law.
            You are being pedantic.
            There are a group of Supreme Court judges who rule on certain mportant cases.
            If Parliament want to they can further legislate to reassert their wishes.
            I take it you agreed with me on all the other ones on your list.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

          The European Council is not made up of civil servants. It is made up of heads of government.

          The Council of the European Union – or the Council of Ministers as it is often called – is made up of ministers in elected government. Eg) treasury ministers or foreign ministers or transport ministers.

          It is simply not true to say the council is an number of civil servants. It isn’t.

          • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

            Total nonsense.
            The Council is made up of permanent civil servants.
            The heads of member states meet a few times a year for a chat.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 5:01 am | Permalink

            You’re right of course Andy. Here we are, three and a half years on from the referendum, and still the Brexiters don’t understand the first thing about the thing they hate so much

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

            Oh go on Paulus do inform us.
            Tell us if you voted for any EU President Commisioner or Council member.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

            Edward, you are confusing the Council Of Ministers – “the Council” – with the European Council of the twenty-seven heads of national governments, the Union’s supreme power.

            It’s easily done. Don’t forget the Council Of Europe, which oversees ECHR either.

          • Posted March 5, 2020 at 1:51 am | Permalink

            The ministers only meet a few times a year.
            Permanent staff do the work during the rsst of the year.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:27 am | Permalink


          We are leaving and the fact that you have a distorted and not always correct impression of the power structures within the EU, just makes youm ore confused.
          As we are leaving , I would recommend you leave the subject as well.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

            Strange post from you bill.
            I am well aware we are leaving.
            It is you that is still all cross about it.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            Bill B, Well, that’s an improvement – you now say “are leaving” rather than “have left”. But why do you keep trying to stop us discussing the EU?

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        The operative is they are appointed by an elite, but not accountable to the people. So are not really democratically representative. No one has the power to challenge, amend or repeal their dictats

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        Check out Brexbox on You Tube. This was the weekly update from Brussels and Strasbourg by the Brexit Party for the period they were MEPS. They opened our eyes to the ways of the EU.

        Not only did meetings go on in secret, but voting was done with a choice of only one candidate, speaking in the Parliament, people were only given tiny sections of time to ask and be answered- and were stopped once the allotted time was up.

        It really was and is so dictatorial! I could go on…

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        My understanding is that their Oath of Office requires them not to seek advantage for their own country at the expense of the European Union as a whole, which is only perfectly understandable and honourable.

        It would make a mockery of the project if senior officials did anything else.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          Martin, Why is it “honourable” to further the aims of a foreign power, rather than your own nation?

          • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

            It would be rather silly if a UK government minister from Yorkshire were only interested in the well-being of Yorkshire, and not in that of the whole Union.

            Yet you seem to expect European Union officials to betray their job descriptions for analogous reasons.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Oh so you’re finally admitting that the EU controls its member states in the same way the UK government controls Yorkshire?

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

            No, Nick, where did I say that?

            Just that employers are free to write job descriptions and to expect them to be honoured.

            I don’t employ a plasterer, to spend his time using my kitchen to make sandwiches to sell, for instance.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Quite the opposite is true.
          Every member nation’s civil servants should try to argue for the policy decisions that would improve their nation.
          The EU then would benefit as a result.
          Being loyal to an artificial supranational body doesn’t create the same drive for individual national improvement.
          But it suits the EU which cares little for the wealth and health of all its members with its desire for centralized growth and increasing control.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:25 am | Permalink

            Edward 2

            Could we have some facts instead of postulations about the EU

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

            Bill B, Could we have some facts, and rational argument, from you rather than just snide postulations about another commenter?

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

            There was plenty of factual content in my post.
            Your posts are barely a sentence usually sarcastic.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink


          No doubt you still believe in the Easter Bunny.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        The point is the Parliament is a sham, like the old Soviet one, the nightmare bureaucracy of the Commission is the Executive, and the Council of Ministers is the Senate. All the Parliament can do is rubber stamp what is served to them from on high. There is no debate there, only allotted minutes for disjointed statements which carry no effect.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      The EU Parliament can debate and debate again, but has no say, it is an order taker.

      The UK is still ruled by by the EU Commission. The UK is still passing UK taxpayers money to the EU as it was ordered to do so by the EU Commission

      So you are by order to pay, by those without any accountability to you or anyone else from the lower ranks – that should be a concern

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 5:04 am | Permalink

        Utter utter nonsense. The Commission has ZERO power to order anyone to do anything. All EU laws are made byy the Council and Parliament, both of which are made up of ellected politicians

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      The UK Cabinet meets in secret too. And, for all intents and purposes, is the main part of our legislature too. What Johnson says goes. So what’s the difference?

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Not even you could claim that the EU parliament has the same power and authority over the EU, that the UK Parliament has over the UK.

        • Posted March 5, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

          Unclear statement.

          Who has more power where?

          One may assume UK Parl has more authority over the UK than the EU, especially under Brexit, no?

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; So does the UK cabinet, what is more their minutes are kept under lock and key for 20-30 years – its what all governments do!

      MPs and Minsters all accept these restrictions, by signing the OSA, seems strange that you believe the EU should be more open than our own Govt, perhaps you could campaign for more openness here in the UK to?….

      Reply We legislate under full scrutiny, the Council of Ministers legislates in secret

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply; I was talking about the UK Cabinet and by extension meetings such as those held in COBRA, such meetings are just as secretive as any EU CoM meetings are, perhaps more so.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply; “We legislate under full scrutiny”

        Always, really – What about SIs that do not need to be laid before parliament?

        Even when Statutory Instruments do have to be voted on by Parliament it is often after the SI has been made and Parliament can not amend, only affirm or reject – this is one of the reasons why in the last parliament the idea that the Govt might use “Henry VIII powers” caused such a storm, because even primary legislation could be amended without parliament having an effective voice.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, I prefer statute law passed by Parliament, rather than SIs. However both the Minister and every Parliamentary MP are directly elected by their constituents, something that cannot be said for EU Commissioners.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

            @NickC; Ministers are appointed, heck after the GE, until the reshuffle, the SoS at the DfCMS was unelected, having stood down -she was given a peerage to enable her to carry on as a Minster.

            Those who attend the CoM are either directly elected by their countries voters or are appointed by the elected government, just like Minsters here in the UK.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      Are the UK’s cabinet meetings televised like Parliament?

      Of course not.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        Neither are any management meetings in companies televised or minutes published.
        Discussions are entitled to be made in confidence.
        You get to vote every few years on the results of a government.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          So why should the Council Of Ministers meetings at the European Union be public?

          • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

            Because they meet a few times a year for an ineffective chat session.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; If CoM meetings are such “ineffective chat session” what’s all the fuss been about? Duh!

            More likely CoM meetings are the European Union equivalent to the UK PM inviting his or her closest loyal Minsters of State to Chequers with the intent to formulate future legislative goals, your logic would suggest such meetings should be carried live and in glorious detail on the Parliament channel…

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            I have no problem with the Council.
            Just pointing out to our pro EU fans that it isn’t as democratic as they claim.
            It is run during the year by civil servants who do the work.
            The ministers meet just a few times a year.
            What does Duh! mean?

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

            Martin, It would be pointless if they were. The negotiations and decisions are made by civil servants behind closed doors (the original contention about meeting in secret). Ministers may contest the civil servants results, but rarely do.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; “It is run during the year by civil servants who do the work.”

            Who are we talking about, the CoM or the UK Govt, both are run by civil servants who do the work – hence the problems and subject of our hosts article!

        • Posted March 4, 2020 at 2:07 am | Permalink


          yes plenty of facts but most of them were wrong, like your postulation that EU makes laws in the 27 countries as they still have to be accepted by each Parliament, so more EU nonsense from you , as most laws are still done domestically.

          You really have to get the facts right in your anti EU propaganda

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            The EU does make laws and regulations and directives applicable in member nations.
            To claim otherwise is ridiculous.

            It is a requirement they accept them because that is written into treaties they have all signed up to.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

            Bill B, You are quite simply wrong. EU Regulations do not have to be “accepted by each Parliament” as you claim. At all. Ever. EU Directives have to be accepted by member state parliaments – but they have no ability to amend or reject the Directives. At all. Ever. So no more EU nonsense from you, please.

            You really have to get the facts right in your pro EU empire propaganda.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

            @bill brown; Sounds like you have never come across the EU Directive (they do what it says on the tin…), sure they have to be ‘accepted’ by the parliaments of the member states but that is as much a rubber-stamp as the UK governments use of SI are when put before the UK parliament.

            “[People] really have to get the facts right in your anti EU propaganda”

            Indeed, but so do those pushing pro-EU propaganda…

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink


      We’re a long way from being finished with the EU; as expected it’s going to be all about FISHERIES… I do hope our host and his colleagues, and more particularly the PM and Mr Frost stand firm on their declared intention to manage UK waters for the benefit of UK boats.
      This issue is the litmus test; there can be no back-tracking. To fail to ‘take back control of fisheries will be to fail Brexit.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        @Peter Wood; “[the Govt should] stand firm on their declared intention to manage UK waters”

        Well yes indeed, all 12 nmi of it, as it relates to “FISHERIES”.

        The other 188 nmi of the often cited EEZ will be for the UN to adjudicate on should there be a dispute between the UK and a EU member country. It has been this way since 1994, UNCLOS being signed by its signatories in Dec. 1982.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, Don’t be silly – you’ve had this explained to you before. As an independent coastal state the UK is entitled – without further adjudication – to exploit our resources up to 200nm or a common midway boundary (which if you look it up has already been agreed).

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; You are the one being silly, and argumentative, as usual, when ever anyone dares to challenge the gospel according to UKIP with some actual facts.

            As an independent State we can only claim a 200 nmi EEZ were there is no over lapping claim.

            No State can extend its claim beyond the median line “Where the coasts of two States are opposite or adjacent to each other” [1]. Good luck finding sea areas around the UK&NI that are not opposite or adjacent to another States equal entitlement to a 200 nmi claim!…

            [1] Section II, Article 15 of the following document [PDF page 24];

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, Like I said: “the UK is entitled – without further adjudication – to exploit our resources up to 200nm or a common midway boundary (which if you look it up has already been agreed)”.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

            @NickC; The EEZ for much of the UK is utterly meaningless, that is what you fail to grasp, west of the UK much of the EEZ is Irish, much of the North sea is split, as is the English Channel and Celtic sea for example.

            Even with a full 200nmi EEZ how are we going to effectively police it, give that we can not create an exclusions area out of it, we much give free passage to all shipping beyond our 12nmi Territorial waters.

          • Posted March 5, 2020 at 2:54 am | Permalink


            Talking about propaganda with you and your empire nonsense , is rather a steep one even coming from you .

            Have you ever heard of the veto right?

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      You misunderstand how the EU works –

      Decisions are taken outside the EP – The EP discusses them, and votes, but the detail of how regulations will operate will have already been decided.

      There is no official EP opposition, and clearly very little in the way of opposition to Commission proposals.
      The EP also lacks a second chamber, to make them ‘think again’ hence the low quality of regulations, but the point to bear in mind is that it is the EU mandarins that apply the detail to drive policies, not the EP

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I like to hear SJR views not yours every day thank you!

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Henry J, We have not left the EU – it still controls us like it did last year. The UK has abrogated the EU treaties (TEU, TFEU, Euratom), but signed up to a new one – the WA treaty – to nearly the same effect (though time-limited).

      Even after we’ve really left – hopefully on 1 Jan 2021 – the EU will remain significant as an undemocratic, hostile, irrational, vindictive power on our doorstep.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        @NickC; Wrong, legally we have left the EU, we have simply agreed a transition, retaining some EU laws and regulation for 11 months.

        The UK is no more a member of the EU than Norway or Iceland are, quite possibly less so – hence why we have been able to retake our seat at the WTO etc, why we can legally enter into trade negotiations with the USA and other non EU countries.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, Wrong, legally and in practice, the EU still controls the UK just as it did last year. The only real change is the treaties which enable that control have been replaced by the (time limited) WA treaty. The UK cannot sign any trade agreement until 1 Jan 2021 at the earliest. Which rather proves my point.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; Then best you tell Boris that the UK can not legally enter trade negotiations with the USA this week, EU law prevents member States from doing so. On the other hand as we have legally left the European Union…

            If the UK can not legally sign any FTAs until 00:01hrs 1st Jan 2021 it is our post membership transitional agreement with the EU that prevents it.

            You might personally feel that the UK has not left the EU but that is your problem, not one for international law!

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, The UK remains under the jurisdiction of the CJEU which continues to apply all EU rules to us. The EU still has “exclusive competence” for the customs union, the internal market, and the common commercial policy (TFEU Art 3) to which the UK must comply pro tem.

            Specifically the UK (as I said) “cannot sign any trade agreement until 1 Jan 2021, at the earliest. And that confirms the UK is still controlled by the EU until the time limit in the WA Act 2020 expires. There was no point to trade negotiations before the WA Act 2020, because we could never sign. Now there is – because the WA is time limited.

            But the UK is still controlled, in international law, by the EU until 31 Dec 2020 (or longer, if an extension is agreed).

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; That is because of the Withdrawal Agreement, if we had not LEGALLY left the EU, there would be no WA and we would not be able to enter trade talks with third party countries, but as we are now legally a third party county outside of the EU we can.

            The fact that you and others do not like the WA is irrelevant to international treaty law.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      “We legislate under full scrutiny, the Council of Ministers legislates in secret”

      As a matter of fact, EU laws are created by the democratically elected legislature not the Commission. The Commission can propose laws but not make them.

      This is one of the great lies perpetuated by Leave. The Commissioners themselves are only appointed after the approval of the democratically elected European Parliament and based on the recommendations of the Council (democratically elected heads of government).

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        Total nonsense.
        The Commission proposes and creates EU law.
        Usually the Commission are member state politicians who have been rejected by member state voters.
        Did you get to vote for any of them?

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

          @Edward2; Wrong, the EP does has to approve legislation.

          The fact that it often does so ‘on the nod’ or by rubber-stamp voting is a different issue that affects many if not most parliaments were time for debating is short & the work load is high – “Remaining Orders of the Day” in the UK parliament for example, often rattled through in minutes on the nod, surely MPs should have to work until 5am debating everything fully, no?…

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, There is no comparison between our Parliament and the EU parliament – for all the reasons enumerated before the Referendum and afterwards. The EU parliament does not form a government, nor an opposition; it has no responsibility for originating legislation; and it cannot be held to account as ours can. The EU parliament is no more than a fig-leaf.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

            The EP always passes the law.
            I said the Commission proposes and creates the law.
            That is correct.
            I’m not sure what, if any, point you are making Jerry.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; I thank you for your opinion, the facts are quite different.
            Funny how you criticise the EC and EP but never seem to criticise the very similar way in which the USA White House administration and the United States Congress operates…

            @Edward2; Almost all UK legislation is brought forward by the unelected Executive, very few Private Members Bills obtain enough parliamentary time to become Acts, unless they get taken up by the Executive – my point, you can not criticise MEPs for doing in their parliament what our own MPs do in our parliament almost ever day the HoC sits, nod through or rubber-stamp Executive legislation!

          • Posted March 5, 2020 at 1:52 am | Permalink

            And most of it is created by the EU.

          • Posted March 5, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Yeah, blame the EU for the failings of our State government, in typical ignorant UKIP style. There has been much UK specific legislation, creating utterly nonsense laws or purely UK regulations, that fell well outside of the EU’s remit.

            Would you really blame the current POTUS for the failings of the State legislators in say California – perhaps you would, if it was a Democrat in the White House…

        • Posted March 5, 2020 at 2:56 am | Permalink

          Edward 2

          Another statement of nonsense some of the most popular politicians in theNordics,Netherlands, Belgium and Germany work for the Commission

    • Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      You seem to be unaware that the EU Parliament has no power to initiate legislation.

  3. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Today, New York stores will ban the use of plastic bags. The authorities in New York and the Companies are not taking health seriously
    The government of Singapore has made a little video informing quite well the nature of this virus. It is not identical to the British position as spoken on TV
    It CAN be transmitted from human breath, sneeze, cough, to an inanimate object and survive for days and be passed on to a human merely by touching it and subsequently placing ones hand to the eyes, lips or nose. This information has not been precise from British sources.
    Also, it was stated categorically a couple of weeks ago by experts via TV in the UK that this virus was un-treatable, unbeatable, and we were defenceless because it attacked our immune system and our immune system cannot fight it under any circumstances.”A vaccine must be created” According to the BBC online on what to do information, oxygen is administered to the ones suffering most “until their immune systems” pick up. .
    Also statically, this is the case in the overwhelming majority of cases and with some people I have heard on video online it all amounted to was a headache.
    MISINFORMATION by our government.
    I knew it was, and how I know is my business.
    I did write on this blog just hours ago in answer to one Commentor.
    ” I see the information. I decide we will not have a Coronavirus epidemic ” I wrote this before seeing the BBC and before seeing the Singapore statements.
    Given that two weeks or so ago, experts of the government were ignorant, it is difficult for the man in the street to be assured it knows what it is doing or saying at all. This is my view and has been my view consistently. I did in fact write some time ago about the stupidity of getting rid of plastic bags and plastic wrappings in supermarkets. The silly ignorant government has proceeded blindly. If there were an epidemic, the British Government and not the Chinese would be responsible. No thought for hygiene. Amateurs!

  4. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Imagine if, during WW2, one of the chiefs of staff, regularly ‘bullied’ (using the modern terminology) by Winston Churchill, had given an interview on the wireless saying he was resigning as Mr Churchill shouts at people, makes unreasonable demands, makes people work in the middle of the night, might be a threat to the health and safety of civil servants and service personnel etc. Can we imagine any of that great generation behaving like that and do we think the public would have had any sympathy?

    If you are a servant of the crown and rise up so far as to get an automatic knighthood then you need to serve the elected government not do your very best to undermine it by seeking to embarrass ministers.

    Perhaps govt departments need outside boards of directors whose job it is to review how successfully civil servants are implementing govt policy. If the answer is badly then, as with a board in a business, they need to be able to change management.

    The people elect the govt, the ministers say what govt policy is. The civil servants implement it and if the people don’t like the results they get to kick the govt out at the next election.

    The case coming up and the way it has been communicated is a shameful disgrace to the civil service and to the concept of service to the crown.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      The country is not at war, however much fanatics may fantasise that it is.

      If anything claimed against Patel is untrue, then why does she not demand a retraction on threat of legal action herself?

      Her alleged conduct seems extraordinary during peacetime in a supposedly civil country.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        As does the permanent secretary.
        It will all soon play out if he really is brave enough to take his constructive dismissal case to court.

  5. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    A very good summation of why the country is taking so long in returning to some form of democracy.

    From the outside looking in with the civil service on board the UK will become a great country. If the current management in the civil service dont see that, then as with all organisations they need to move on or be made to move on.

    The UK is a business with lots of investors, our ability to flourish is hampered those that let’s face it are working for the competition

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink


      “From the outside looking in with the civil service on board the UK will become a great country”

      Nobody has yet answered my oft repeated question here:

      Why did we beg to join the EU all those years ago if were doing so well outside it?

      Because we were known as the ‘sick man of Europe’ and our own attempts to create an opposite trading bloc like EFTA had failed to match an organisation that has since become the world’s leading trading bloc.

      Now under our undemocratic voting systems some 17m mostly old people have made us vulnerable to the likes of American corporate greed and having to go cap in hand around the world begging for scraps off their table.

      And the laughing stock of the world to boot.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        Such a boring repetitive post by you Margaret.
        I’ve answered it many times.
        Fundamentally we joined a trading bloc of six similar nations.
        It has been hijacked by socialists who have ruined it.

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Thank you Margaret – as a counter to the endlessly repeated lies that we hear the truth cannot be stated often enough.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          Tell us what your truth is Martin.
          Always happy to read your words of wisdom.

          • Posted March 5, 2020 at 2:59 am | Permalink


            If you produced wisdom yourself , it would not come across so sarcastically

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Margaret H, “We” didn’t beg to join the EU. The UK establishment asked to join the “common market” (or so we were told). But they didn’t tell us their reasons. Well, not until 2003.

        Far from being the “sick man of Europe” in the 1960s, England was widely admired. The UK became “sick” in the 1970s when we were already in the EEC. Our application to the IMF was in 1976 – 3 years after the UK became part of the EEC.

        For one specific question the is nothing more democratic than a binary referendum. You lost. Get over it.

        • Posted March 5, 2020 at 3:00 am | Permalink


          We were already sick in the 1960s and we were falling behind the rest of Europe in terms of growth rates already look it up

  6. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Airing these differences in public will not improve the situation I feel.

    The civil service is now likely to double down, they can not all be replaced. This should be sorted behind closed doors by the cabinet office. An enforcer at the top could make all the difference.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      The problem with the civil service is that they think they know best. Even in areas where they have no first-hand experience. They are not interested in efficiency, but appear to operate on the assumption, that the bigger they are, the more indispensable they become.

      Principles of equilibrium and supply and demand are unknown principles, that is why they make such a dogs dinner of much of what they do and cost the taxpayer a fortune in the process.

      What is needed is a commission made up of only private sector experts (with a set time frame) going through all civil service departments eliminating all the ‘castle builders’, the excessive box ticking and control freakery and keeping only the essential jobs. This would cull the civil service by at least 40%.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      I agree Narrow Shoulders this should be done without media input. But the Civil Servant in the latest saga went to the press and made a public statement. His Union is now making media comments such as “Boris Johnson has given a green light to ministers who wish to smear the reputations of top civil servants, a union leader has claimed, as a further allegation of unacceptable behaviour against the home secretary, Priti Patel, emerged on Sunday night.”

      So is it alright if one side does all these airing differences in public, but when Ministers and other MPs double down and make the opposite position public it isn’t alright?

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      You don’t need to replace them all – but the key senior managers should obviously be people committed to achieve the stated Government policies – and if they are clearly unwilling to do this, then they should go.

      This would happen without any particular comment in commercial life – and there would be no shortage of new talent waiting in the wings to step in to replace them either. I think we need to understand that most of the Civil Service are ordinary working people who do their job very well – but the ‘Mandarins’ are the ruling class within the CS and are a law unto themselves it seems.

      Priti Patel was not Home Secretary during Windrush but Phillip Rutnam was the person in charge of it’s implementation when it screwed up. Why was he still in the job? It seems in both the senior ranks of the CS (and Police) – failure & incompetence is often rewarded by promotion.

      Oh BTW – if Philip Rutnam doesn’t like being shouted at, thank goodness he missed National Service – I’m sure he really would have hated that! Seriously, is this wimp the best person we can find for this most senior and crucial job? Sounds more like jobs for the Old Boys to me – and if the Old Boys don’t want to toe the official policy line, then I’m sure there are other ambitious CS managers who will.


  7. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    How can this culture be changed? What disciplinary procedures can be used to adjust attitudes?

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      N O T A
      There has to be acceptance on both sides that the job as defined involves responsibility and accountability. Neither are up for negotiation.

      That being accepted then when a new minister or change of party takes place then that minister has licence to submit his “Direction Statement” on the staff. As long as it cannot be considered totally outrageous and out of step with the elected manifesto it is submitted to every member of the department with the simple choice “sign on or ship out” and they sign as to give proof of acceptance to the new way forward. One has to accept that each minister will have a slightly different stance on how and what is needed to get the best results.

      If if the sad event of misunderstanding or total non belief resulting in action against the direction being taken against the programme which is exposed can then be dealt with a reminder that this is what you agreed on and signed up for and as such you have broken the terms of your internal contract with the department and you will be told to leave. This process must also apply to the minister and his juniors. This process applies real focus in that no one is holding a gun to your head if you feel that the journey being travelled is in the wrong direction please close the door on the way out. It is a basic change management process. Change is a constant in life and even civil and public servants haave to enter into the real world. If you do not like your job, work, work colleagues or conditions you leave for better horizons because if you are perceived to be holding back or creating internal problems you will be told to leave usually with no renumeration or golden handshake.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Actually part of the rot started under Thatcher. She introduced ‘performance related pay’ which resulted in a whole generation who were not going to ‘speak truth to power’ and lose out. Under successive EU friendly UK governments the end result has been what Sir J describes.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Atlas, Nonsense. “Performance related pay” is not for the political (senior) level.

  8. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Sir JR

    The presentation of a total enemy in the civil service, which is only there to serve the EU and its interests, is of course a wild exaggeration and is not much better than the so-called fear campaign you keep talking about.

    I know of a lot of very competent civil servants who try their best to serve the sitting government and the best interests of the country.

    Some more differentiation in the presentation would have served you better

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      Where and at what level are the civil servants you know. Possibly not in the Home Office or you could have encouraged them in the right direction.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      Dear Bill, (sounds familiar)

      Like you I am surprised to read the apparent ‘bare-all’ nature of Sir J’s last 3 paragraphs. I certainly hope that the entirety of the departments he refers to are working against the objectives of taking back control, etc. If they are then we have a much larger problem.
      There are a couple of interesting points to note; first the senior secretary in question ‘went public’ with his grievance, well if you do that then you’re going to get a lot worse than a few mean words. He’s opened the issue, now he’s going to have to fight in public.
      Second, this is most unusual as we know, the normal way is to obtain the support of the Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet and colleagues to ‘resolve’ your issues, quietly. He clearly found that he didn’t have that support, and perhaps for good reason.
      There must be a better way to remove senior civil servants who are deemed ‘not suitable’ to their post.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        Correction: ‘..are NOT working against…

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Try reading The Great Deception by Christopher Booker and Richard North. There are genuine documents to support that the Civil Servants of all the member countries swore allegiance to the EU (as it is now) with the sole intention of NOT being loyal to their country, but to the Union. It was actually set up like that! And if they didn’t keep their loyalty- they were punished (financially, loss of pension; that type of thing) It is unchanged.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        ‘The Great Deception’ – I see JR doesn’t dispute that!

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      And it would be useful to differentiate between Senior Civil Servants, and those further down the chain.

      I personally know people who work for the Civil Service in Job Centres and Benefit Offices. They have long days, dealing with abusive and sometimes violent, ‘clients’, ‘service users’, or whatever they are called nowadays. Because of understaffing, they don’t get to take all of their annual leave. The pay is generally not great, and with Universal Credit, pressure is heaped on them.

      This is the side, the public never hears about, when the Politicians says how wonderful everything is going. It would be an eye opener for some MPs to go and work in these places for a few weeks. They would be very keen to go back to Westminster for a rest.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      The problem, Bill, is that many of them think they alone understand ‘the best interests of the country’. Brexit has broken the Civil Service in a way that you don’t even begin to understand.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      You missed the words “There are of course many able and good individual civil servants and some who do like Brexit,”

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Of course there are competent civil servants, there are also exactly the type of bureaucratic loving civil servants that JR is referring to here. We saw one pouting on TV over the weekend, who was then defended by a self aggrandising retired civil servant trying to extol his virtues and why he should have been unchallenged when failing to carry out the Minister’s, i.e. the Government’s, demands. A bureaucracy such as the civil service will always like a bureaucracy like the eu, it make life easy for them. Next time a Minister has to resign because a policy has failed I would have more time for your views if a senior civil servant or two was sacked at the same time by the Civil Servant in charge… clearly their advice must have been bad.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      “I know of a lot of very competent civil servants who try their best to serve the sitting government and the best interests of the country.”

      And herein the problem. Having given their advice, they should not presume to judge “what is in the best interest of the country”, but do as they are told. Its like driving the car with the hand brake half on. One knows that their Common Purpose” ideals kick in. Seriously, a process of re-application for the post, with outside affiliations declared, referenced by intelligence, should become the norm. We must know the enemy within.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I think we are talking about the most senior ranks of the ‘Mandarins’ here Bill (The Officer Class) – and I’m pretty sure Sir John has described this situation very well.

      Most of these people have never been in involved in Government outside of EU Membership and now they (like our Political Classes) will be required to stand on their own feet and think for themselves in many new areas where they didn’t before – and if they are not up to the job, then frankly they should go and we should promote people who can not only manage the new realities – but also find ones who want to do so!


    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      JR is being totally you well know.
      The last three years of mayhem and misery were not a mirage.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      It is blatantly obvious that Sir John is not referring to the Grade C sat at their desk, the people concerned normally have a Sir in front of their names. I always thought that the adage “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in” referred to the establishment and the Sir Humphreys of the civil service. You only have to see how they drop their Ministers in it with poor briefings, leaks and love of the EU etc.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Bill Brown? Sure, absolutely correct and impartial comment from someone wedded to the proper conduct of the rarely civil, these days, Civil Service. One major way to curb these unelected and smug Mandarins is to only give honours to those who have properly served their and our elected Ministers.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Bill B, Knighthoods for those who have worked with the EU to deflect or cancel UK policy, and prosecutions for those who have defended the UK against terrorists? Yeah . . . everything’s right in your Remain EU world, isn’t it?

  9. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I have only worked (as a contractor) in one civil service area and I was appalled by the overkill antics against and derogatory opinion they nurtured about farmers.

    OK, a lot of farmers may not have a degree, but how many of these office based box tickers would know what to do during the lambing season, or at harvest time? They are clueless about the unsociable hours and heaven forbid they should have to get dirty!

    We have sheep and dairy farmers whose land is obviously laid mostly to grass, but I don’t see the logic in encouraging crop farmers to have more permanent grass, or this fixation to fill prime agricultural land with trees. Unless of course the civil service echelons are EU supporters and want to ensure the British Isles remains dependent on mainland Europe for its food…

    So I sincerely hope the recent news about landowners who don’t use their land to grow food will not receive any tax funded aid is followed through.

    Myopic decisions are made by people who are clueless about rural life and that a country needs to be able to grow its own food.

  10. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    For the last forty years the ideal you describe did not pertain. Virtually all law and thought on how we should progress came from unelected bureaucrats in the EU. No doubt our own bureaucrats found common cause with those in the EU. Governance minus interfering politicians suited them well. All the disinformation from the BoE and Treasury was burocracy argueing against our departure from the EU, and doing so dishonestly as if they were yet another political party in opposition. Much of the policy on environment was patently wrong until our climate began telling us otherwise. Our policy on farming and fishing was designed primarily to satisfy the needs and protectionism of the EU.

    Our civil servants have not got their heads round or accepted that everything is about to change. From now on UK Government decides and civil servants advise and implement. Their umbelical to Brussels has been cut. Ultimately the civil service accepts this or they leave. There is no room for an EU fifth column within them. They have the option of departing quietly or with their blood all over the carpet as in the Home Office. If they have the intellect they are credited with they will get the message.

  11. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I would like to remind our kind host that, he has stated numerous times on this blog / diary, that both the UK Government and Parliament are still biased towards the Remain side of the argument. As many here will know, I am no friend of the Civil Service but, I will not allow MP’s, including our kind host, to off load the blame for the debacle of the last three and a half years on to them May I remind our kind host that, it was his party that placed Theresa May MP in Number 10, and it was members his party that took every opportunity in the HoC to frustrate and stop BREXIT.

    The Civil Service has, for the last half century, been living the dream. They thought, understandably, that they could and should, be the ones that run the country. Fine if :

    a) they were all competent.

    b) they were all above and beyond corruptibility.

    c) they placed the people and this country above all, and not some fantasy of a United Europe.

    We voted Leave not just to take back control, but to hold those who wish to govern in our name accountable to us. It is this accountability that is key. A sort of Sword of Damocles if you like. We in the real, productive world have to live under it, it now high time that both MP’s and CS did too !

  12. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    ‘Expect more sparks to fly. I know which side I am on.’

    There are newspaper reports that Number 10 has a ‘s***list’ of permanent secretaries it wishes to purge. This includes the Treasury and Foreign Office.

    Is there another way of doing this without leading to court cases for unfair dismissal ?

  13. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    A very one sided view.

    A civil servant’s job is also to speak truth to power. And although it might be uncomfortable for the Home Secretary to learn that her policies are not-implementable in the timeframe the government has set itself it is important that she is told this in no uncertain terms.

    In the real world there is simply no-way that we can recruit and train the 50,000 customs pen pushers Michael Gove no’s says we will need to administer your new Brexit border bureaucracy by the end of the year. Particularly as we will not have a clear idea of what we need to train them to do for several months. And this is before we start considering the computer systems they will need to do the job which is still unspecified.

    Priti Patel can shout and scream about it all she likes. But even an effective minister who does not resort to abuse and bullying is going to make the impossible possible. And this demand is simply not possible to achieve.

    I don’t like this government at all. It is dangerously authoritarian. But within it there are good ministers – like Michael Gove – and bad ministers, like Priti Patel. There is no scenario which now ends with her as Home Secretary. She is toxic. The question is simply how long it will take for her to be removed.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

      You keep telling us you run a business.
      What would you do if your senior managers keep telling you it can’t be done when you need to get things done?
      Say give it a try or just say OK don’t bother.

  14. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The problem is that the civil service has persuaded the past governments to put into law a mass of legislation which gets into the way of change. For example the signing of the UN migration pact, which they can claim to prevent sending back illegal economic migrants because the UK has promised to accept them as refugees. Employment law may allow civil servants who flounce out because s minister has told them to get their finger out and spoken in a disagreeable way may be able to rely on members of an equally lefty tribunal to bung them a staggering payout before they take up s better paid job running a quango or advising a bank on how to exploit the rush to zero carbon dioxide. The government needs to repeal or cancel the pile of junk legislation that the mandarins have created. Then sack the heads of the snake and promise no more government contracts for any firm that employs them and tax their pensions for reasons of equality.

  15. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Outside of Westminster we’ve had enough of the Sir Humphreys, hugely privileged creatures who wield great power without any real accountability. They preside over shambles that cost ordinary taxpayers millions, yet are rewarded with ironclad pensions and Honours “for service to their country”.

    It’s hardly surprising that they should eventually come to hold everyone outside their bureaucratic class in such contempt and believe themselves intellectually and morally superior.

    Recovering the situation will be hard work. The rot starts at the top. Firstly we should abolish Honours for Civil Servants: their reward is their salary. If they do splendid voluntary work outside their job, that’s different; but no gongs. There is nothing “special” about what they do – it’s a job, not a calling, and certainly not a sacrifice to do it. And in other respects, they must take the can like the rest of us do, for cockups (particularly financial ones), and for not carrying out their duties to the best of their ability.

  16. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    “Expect more sparks to fly. I know which side I am on.” – Noted and I am on the same side.

    Those permanent secretaries wishing to support Sir Rutnam should be invited to resign by the end of the week. (They can then join him in a class action.)

  17. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The civil service has proved over many years that it does not reflect and tries to undermine the wishes of the British people. They are our emloyees. If they do not want to do what they are told it is time for them to go and find productive work elsewhere- Brussels perhaps? We should reform and massively slim down the establishment now. To a very large extent it is unneccessary and a drag on the country. Kick them out.

  18. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I am afraid this is a common enough problem in business. New brooms set out to sweep clean and implement new ideas.

    Unfortunately it is also very common for the new brooms to have no real idea what they are doing. After about four years or sooner corporate backers get tired of the failures and the new brooms are chucked out.

    In a business context the old hands have collected their redundancy payoff and moved into new jobs. They can sit back and laugh. Civil Servants have to stick it out but know the game very well and have their own ways of laughing.

    The Civil Service is generally very experienced and very competent. Sadly government policies of every stripe are frequently illogical, inconsistent and often dishonest. The Civil Service takes the flak and smiles. Ministers are experienced at impression management but useless otherwise. They are a temporary annoyance, we all know they won’t last.

    Having gained control it is now down to the Brexiteers to demonstrate political and economic competence. To demonstrate there was some intellectual hinterland to Brexit, to start putting their well planned building blocks into place. Otherwise they will go the way of new brooms.

  19. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    So we elect MP who say one thing before elections and then very often do the complete opposite after. But even when they actually try to what they said they would do they are obstructed by civil servants and even judges stretching the law to obstruct them. Plus we have the endless idiotic propaganda and total misinformation from the absurd lefty dopes at the BBC and Channel 4.

    How can we really claim the UK is democratic? This even when outside the EU.

  20. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Boris says the government is being advised by the worlds top experts on the coronavirus. Are they being advised by the top experts on transport, energy, climate, CO2 and the likes. If so they either have duff experts or they are ignoring them at every turn.

    Covid19 is an excellent reason or ruse to cancel HS2 how many reasons do they need. Almost anything would be a better investment, tax cuts would be at least 1000 times better.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      The government seem to have finally decided that spread of the virus is now quite likely! Well we knew that about many days ago indeed I would have said virtually certain. So what are the plans to deal with a few thousand more people needing intensive care and who are very infectious? Not a word on this issue from government!

  21. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    “overall the civil service wants to take no risks by the UK doing something the EU may not approve”

    Ever since the People’s Vote, right up to and including the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, I have felt that such was the approach of the Conservative Party. I look forward to the day when such apprehension does not bear comparison with the facts.

    P.S.: 305 days till the Conservatives’ gift to the EU of legislative power over the UK expires (Arts. 126 and 127 of the Withdrawal Agreement); or,
    1,035 days if Boris offers it the three-year, “premium vassalage”, upgrade (Art. 132).

  22. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I know which side I am on. It is time for the blame game to stop. It is time to stop playing with language, in attempts to manipulate the thinking of the electorate. We had more than 3 years of that, and it’s still going on. It’s time to take responsibility. (Take back control was another abuse of language, designed to manipulate.) Please stop blaming the EU for the faults, failings and mistakes of our own government. I seem to recall hearing that it is time for all good men and women to come together, to unite, to put the divisions behind us and to move forward. You seem not to want that unity.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Irene, It seems you do not want that unity either. Help us to take back control of our own nation. Or get out of the way.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        NickC, we never lost control of our own nation. But thank you for your kindness, as show in your sad comment.

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          PS. “Or get out of the way”? Is that not what is called bullying?

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            Irene, So your attempt to prevent us leaving your EU empire isn’t bullying the electorate? If you want unity, get on board the Leave train; or get out of the way. But don’t try bullying us into Remain by manipulating our thinking. It’s time you took responsibility.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            being effectively told you are being obstructive is not bullying.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          Irene, Declaration 17 (TEU/Lisbon) states that EU laws have primacy over UK laws. Yes, we did lose control of our own nation. You don’t even know how the EU controls its member states, do you?

  23. Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I know which side I am on, as well.
    The effect, described here, of how the EU is effectively run behind closed doors, by the powers behind the thrones, is one major reason some of us had no respect for the EU, for a very long time.
    Clearly mandarins feel now, having exercised this power, that they have the right to do as they see fit.
    Rather than attacking this in an ad-hoc manner with each minister fighting their own corner, it needs to be done as a governmental project to weed out those that still believe we should be ruled by the EU and prefer to keep the perks associated with it.
    This must be done as a matter of priority otherwise the whole thing will fester and influence our complete escape from the EU.

  24. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this excellent summary of the position.

  25. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    No one in any walk of life relishes their wings being clipped. However when self interest and an attitude of we know best takes over and behaviour beyond remit becomes common place then good and responsible ministers have a duty to the Country to see those operating outside remit are reeled in. No one will deny the positives of the Civil Service provided they work within remit. They are not the Government.

  26. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I do think there is a case for each government to have the ability to choose the person to be in charge of the Civil Service to ensure they drive in the same direction as the government. There is no reason why that person should be from the Civil Service, running an organisation is not a unique ability.

  27. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Johnson backs Patel. Why does Johnson even feel the need to do this? There is no need to play the Civil Service game. He should have condemned the political behaviour of the CS and their pathetic activism

    New laws now needed to purge this most pernicious vested interest and reform it once and for all

  28. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    As a junior civil servant in HM Treasury in the ’80s it was interesting to see how things worked behind the scenes. In those days, my colleagues did generally try and implement policies, even if they personally disagreed with them.
    There were exceptions, and I remember Norman Lamont being keen to facilitate Employee Share Ownership Plans (ESOPs). The resulting 1989 legislation was so butchered by the Inland Revenue that I think it has the unique distinction of never having been used by any company.
    It also became quickly apparent to me on leaving for the City how very little my intelligent and civilised colleagues had known about what they were supposed to be working on.

  29. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    I never thought I would say this but your posting confirms one thing: that civil servants are more concerned for the good of the country rather than ‘here today gone tomorrow’ career politicians.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Then why are they opposing the democratic vote to leave the EU? The key word here is “servant”; it is not their place to dictate policy or try to frustrate democracy.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Margaret, can you imagine a Cabinet full of Ministers made up of commenters from this site? How far do you think the Civil Service would allow their mad policies, illuminated daily here, go before they took over?

      The Civil Service is the only institution that can defend the country and its gullible citizens from political madness cloaked in fake democracy. For every mad policy it is obliged to enact, it has to plan to retract that policy and minimise its damage when it goes mammeries up. I think Brexit is one of those policies.

      Countries can go without politicians for months. It can’t go without the Civil Service even for a few hours.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

        The civil service is there to carry out policies of the elected government.
        Just because you don’t like the current majority Government doesn’t make their refusal to co operate and do what they are told acceptable.

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink


        Hear, hear.

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        I’m assuming you mean that people with such views and political opinions would be elected into government by the voters acorn.
        In which case the civil servants would be duty bound to enable those policies to be carried out.
        I know those of you on the left find democracy a bit of a nuisance, referring to voters as gullible as you have in your post, but it is pretty basic stuff.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      MH – – then they need to be removed. They are employed to carry out the policies of the elected government, not to interpret whether they are good, bad or indifferent. If they want to determine policies – take up politics.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Margaret H, It cannot be “good” for our nation to disappear into the maw of the EU empire.

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:22 am | Permalink


        It is not an empire Rome was an empire

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          Bill B, Cambridge dictionary: “Empire: a group of countries ruled by a single person, government, or country“. The EU is an empire.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 1:59 am | Permalink


            is not a country, person or governemnt

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

            Bill B, The EU is a government, as you well know.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Depends how you define ” the good of the country”
      Top civil servants are supposed to get the elected Government policies implemented.
      They haven’t had a Government with a big majority for a long time.
      It is coming as a shock to them.
      And some ministers are actually telling them to go and get things done.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      You seem in awe of civil servants who act on their personal whims regarding “the good of the country” as they see / wish it, rather than recognising and acting on the democratic decision of the people who voted for the government in charge and their mandate, and that cannot be for the good of the country. That would be close to how a dictatorship operates.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      It’s funny how you support a Home office management team that oversaw the Windrush debacle.
      They left the then Home Sec out to dry to take the blame.
      In the commercial world many of them would have been sacked.

  30. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    A thought on fish: the mandarins keep encouraging the EU rumour that our fish are a teeny, weeny part of our national life and wouldn’t be missed. But this doesn’t tally with the furious determination of the French, the Spaniards, and even the Dutch, to hang on to them.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      That puzzles me too. If it is of such tiny value, why are the EU risking their huge trade surplus in order to keep control of our fishing grounds with such a tiny value?

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        If you are looking for consistency from Remainers you will be disappointed. For example, they have argued that a) we must be in the EU or our government will slash employee’s rights and b) the EU has never made the UK parliament do anything it didn’t want to. a) and b) are clearly mutually exclusive.

  31. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I always thought our immigration system was one of managed incompetence , I never believed all these highly educated people could create a system that is so ramshackle that it failed in its most basic task by chance. Who could have possibly thought it was a brilliant idea to not bother properly recording immigrants, binning Windrush records , and not even bothering to count the people coming into the country? I would suggest it is people who never wanted any immigration controls in the first place. Of late I gather they have ‘lost’ some 600,000 immigrants.

    The EU has been a malign force, attracting the loyalty from our Civil Service, I suppose the the EU would turn any bureaucrats head, to get rid of their political masters or having to take note of the great unwashed who might upset their well laid plans would seem like Nirvana to them, thus the self indulgent tantrum from the Home Office Civil Servants, after all no one gives up power willingly.

    • Posted March 5, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      That’s all it is; a most pathetic temper tantrum.

      Against the likes of His Highness, Sir Redwood of Oxford & the assorted Shires thereunder, their crocodile tears will amount to nought.

  32. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Do not wish to go back to the days of empire at all, but I understand at that time when we controlled about 25% of the World, we did it with just 20,000 civil servants and no computers.
    Clearly the World has changed and our Empire is no more, but so have the number of laws and regulations which seem to have grown out of all proportion with complication upon complication.

    How many pages do we now have for tax legislation, believe is it now 20,0000 or more.

    I agree we must take back control, but rather than do this with even more legislation why do we not scrap a lot of what we have already got that simply does not work, and is not fit for purpose.

    Looks like the Government is finding out that our employment laws are not fit for purpose, given they seem not to be able to manage their own employees without some sort of disciplinary arrangement problems, or yet another huge pay off.

    Simple hire and fire (for incompetence or any other sensible reason) now almost impossible

    • Posted March 5, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Completely agree.

      I simply could not agree more, even if you begged or paid me to, my good man!

  33. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    We need a Trump like figure, to drain the swamp. Most of the electorate would be in full support.
    As in private business, those who are incompetent, or who try to damage the company they work for, get their marching orders. Why should the civil service have impunity against either of these conditions?

  34. Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    We also appear to have a judiciary which sets its own agenda.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      The law sets the agenda for the judiciary, not governments, nor the mob.

      Some people don’t like that apparently, especially the last bit.

      Parliament makes the top tier of law, statute, not government.

      It’s a pity that the UK’s is now, well and truly, a rubber-stamping entity on that point however.

      Oh the irony, what?

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        The process of judicial review and judges who enjoy making law via their judgements makes them another alternative Government.
        Fortunately the Blair Brown era placements can now be overruled by our elected majority government.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          Judges cannot make any ruling which conflicts with either common law precedent or with Statute.

          Judicial process, along with the European Union, is a topic in which you display boundless ignorance, apparently.

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

            Wrong yet again.
            In judicial review they can and do regularly.
            They can and do regularly interpret laws on the statute book and make new rulings.

          • Posted March 4, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

            Several of us have tried to inform you on some very basic points, Edward, but clearly you are unwilling to be helped.

            It would appear that you want judges, but who are not allowed to use judgement in the light of fact, including the law as it is.

            Your point supplements, but in no way contradicts anything that I have said, so in no way refutes it.

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        and the law is an ass ( sometimes).

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      And an Electoral Commission.

  35. Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I would have thought it should be possible to hire Brexit friendly spads and have them shadow people like Rutnam from the moment they set foot in the building to the moment they leave.

    Taking notes, attending meetings, sitting near them in the canteen etc. Eyes and ears on the civil service top guys 24/7 “to ensure Government policy is effectively and efficiently implemented” or some other cover story.

  36. Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Another issue is the selection of civil servants for posts.
    I understand that one civil servant started in the Treasury and was promoted to Transport. It is difficult to see what relevant skills he brought. He was then moved to the Home Office. Again I fail to see what relevant expertise he brought.
    This system seems to ensure that the civil servants advising ministers are not experts in their field.
    We need to change to a system where promotion when warranted is within a department so that senior civil servants are the experts they are employed to be.

  37. Posted March 2, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    If civil servants, through subtle, devious or even underhand means, fail to carry out the policy of the elected Government, derived from the manifesto on which that Government was elected then they are undermining the country and democracy itself. That same democracy we have so recently won back to give full sovereignty to the UK government.

    So why can they not be sacked? It would be a wake up call to the next tier of Common Purpose trained people who will have to be promoted to fill those posts.

  38. Posted March 2, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    If Boris is genuine then he needs to be very wary of fear projects.
    Kerfuffles are a great way of destabilising and snatching power.

  39. Posted March 2, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I’d like to see more sparks. Attempts at persuading Departmental heads to change by gentle persuasion to avoid open confrontation have failed.

    We must have fundamental change. Obstructionists and saboteurs must be replaced and quickly. I was appalled at the arrogance, the sense of entitlement and the petulance demonstrated by Rutnam the other day. If he is typical then there is a lot of work to do, so let’s get to it.

    I’d like to see change at the top of the Environment next. There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of the recent flooding could have been prevented with a proper water management, dredging and robust regular maintenance of all water courses, large and small.

  40. Posted March 2, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    ”the road to hades is easy to travel”

    Civil Servants collaboration with the EU needs to end

  41. Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    A lot of the problem is that most civil servants appear unsackable, and they know it.

  42. Posted March 2, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Ever since Heath signed the Treaty of Rome, the Tory Party has put on facade of Euroscepticism at election time and continued to sign and support treaties which bound us further into the belly of the beast. For three and a half years the Tory Party tried to wiggle out of its obligation to obey the will of the people because they believed they knew better. One of her last acts of treason was May’s signing of the Global Compact for Migration which gives the right to anyone with their own country to invade ours; when is Johnson going to disavow this anti-white assault on the indigenous people of Europe by Peter Sutherland? I’m not holding my breath.

    Why blame civil servants for doing their job by pointing out the implications of the laws which politicians themselves signed up to? When will politicians give us a fair electoral system so we can end the destruction of our country by a malignant minority?

  43. Posted March 2, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I think we are on the same side as yourself John. We must not allow the EU to dictate all the terms to us. We are free now.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      So, this “we” that apparently includes you, FUS, what, exactly are you personally free to do now, that you were not while the UK was a member of the European Union?

      I can list plenty, that you are no longer free to do, however.

      • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        We don’t actually gain our freedom and independence until the end of this year.

        • Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:21 am | Permalink


          Using freedom in the case of the EU, does not seem right and I would actually call it nonsense. This means that the other 27 do not have freedom

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

            What would you have me call it bill?
            Is any word acceptable to you?

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

            Well they are not free of EU controls are they Bill? 🙂

          • Posted March 3, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            Bill B, Correct, the other 27 don’t have freedom. How could they when EU law has primacy over their own?

        • Posted March 4, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

          OK, what will you, personally, be free to do then that you are not now?

      • Posted March 3, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Free to bring in our own legislation. Free to fish our waters in the way we want to. Free to send home criminals if we want to. Free to do what ever we want to with our borders. OK maybe not til the end of the year but it is coming.

        • Posted March 4, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          So you’re a lawmaker and a fisherman are you, Fedup?

          Well, we live and learn, don’t we?

          Do you understand the word “personally”?

          The truthful answer is “absolutely nothing” isn’t it?

  44. Posted March 2, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve said it before that the culture in any organisation is always set by the leadership team, where their job is to provide the right environment for their staff to excel and deliver the organisation’s objectives; in this case, the government’s.

    When those in management positions take things personally or display a degree of petulance, it’s not in the least helpful for staff morale, discipline or productivity. It simply leads to a workplace with higher than average staff turnover due to the frustration of good quality staff who can get a job anywhere and where sickness is rife in those who are left struggling to pick up the pieces.

  45. Posted March 2, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    “Civil servants can refuse to implement only if the Minister is wanting to do something illegal”

    The only time I’ve seen this out in the open is when the CS concerned asked for written instructions from… was it Hancock and Letwin? — when told to give more millions to Kid’s Company. The CS advice was that the millions would be wasted, the politicians over-ruled the advice and in a couple of weeks the millions went, as predicted, down the drain.

    My interest was engaged as I was looking at the support given to Reaction Engines Ltd for the development of their revolutionary air-breathing rocket, the greatest leap forward aviation technology since the jet engine if it works. Kid’s Company got a total of £60,000,000. RA got £50 million. I am reminded of the Miles 52, a design for the first supersonic aircraft. The CS advised that it wouldn’t work as it didn’t have swept wings, and it was never built — well, never if you don’t count the Bell X1, a US rocket powered carbon copy which is down in the record books as the first supersonic man-carrying aircraft.

    HMG should be pushing the Sabre engine with all their might — the UK has a living to make. Sir John, I hope someone competent is in charge of technological development but I’m not holding my breath.


  46. Posted March 2, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Priti Patel accused the uncivil servant of briefing against her which he denied and there he was……. briefing against her, it’s about time that they were cut down to size

  47. Posted March 2, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    “a civil service keen to maximise the constraints the EU imposes on self government”

    Surely a sacking offence! Unfortunately that might leave them with a comfortable taxpayer funded pension, so it would be good if that could be removed to set an example. Such people have been obstructing our exit from the EU ever since the referendum and deserve a severe penalty.

  48. Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    JR, I know which side I am on, too – Priti Patel’s.

  49. Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I would expect that a senior and experienced Permanent Secretary would have learned how to cope with a determined and feisty Minister, without said PS getting worked up into a self-indulgent huffing and puffing tantrum. If there was an insoluble clash of temperaments, then surely the PS should have consulted with Sir Mark Sedwill and asked for either a transfer or a discussion to calm down the temperature.

    As has been repeated many times, John Reid described the Home Office as ‘not fit for purpose’, and it’s worth looking at how many Home Secretaries have resigned in recent decades, both Labour and Tory – it can’t all be the fault of the politicians.

  50. Posted March 2, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I quite agree, some in the civil service seem to have got above their station. Ms Patel should have NO need to keep chivvying people up to do their jobs which is to follow the instructions and requests of the ministers.

  51. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Anti-Leave Civil Servants have become the pits of the arrogant, self-serving Public Sector employees. They all must go to make way for a new Britain.

  52. Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Patel to be thrown under a bus to protect the Europhile Civil Service? If Johnson does commit an act of cowardice and capitulate it will prove just what a charlatan he actually is.

    The accusations against Patel are politically motivated to destroy a threat. Any inquiry should be directed at the treachery and vile behviour of pro-EU Whitehall bureaucrats

  53. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    and civil servants can brief against Ministers.
    Name names.

  54. Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    As you know I dont agree with everything Dom Cummings says or does, but I do think his feedback on his time as a SPAD in education and the realities of dealing with the civil service and public sector does ring true, and has a lot of reasonable points which do need addressing. I also think the way the world of work happens outside the public sector (and its subcontractors) is massively different to the public sector, and fixing the public sector in this regard would be good for everyone.

    • Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      sorry for the obvious mistake in there 🙂

  55. Posted March 3, 2020 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Yes John as one of the better known headbangers we know well enough which side you are on and Please don’t regard this as an insult

  56. Posted March 3, 2020 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    I suspect that similar problems apply to the quangocracy.

  57. Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Highly astute insightful article. Here is a question. Is the secretary of state an employer in the same sense that a CEO is in a company structure? Who is actually managing employment related issues around Sir Philip Turban? I’m fairly sure it is not Priti Patel. Sir Philip is the senior manager in the home office. It is hard to see how a charge of bullying of him by someone who is not his superior can be made to stick. Ministers have very limited power’s over individual civil servants. This has changed somewhat following Blair’s politicisation of senior appointments. A consequence of that is that ministers are now open to charges such as bullying.
    This is a dispute between individuals with quite different responsibilities. Whatever may come out of the enquiry I hope the cabinet will respond by detailing every refusal, every awkwardness, every obstruction, every obfuscation, every drag of the feet, every sleight of hand, every excuse employed by civil servants to hinder or distort implementation of government policy.
    There must be no compromise on the fundamental principle that ministers decide, not civil servants. Otherwise we cannot have accountable democratic government. Our votes would be meaningless. And that is of course exactly what EU-phile technocrats want.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page