The civil service needs to show its independence and skills

There are several requests from countries to initiate trade talks with a newly independent UK. The Cabinet Office needs to have a good brief available soon for the incoming Prime Minister on how to exit the EU quickly and smoothly, and how to keep decent access to the markets of other EU countries in the process.

Apparently on PM orders the civil service did not prepare a brief on how to exit during the referendum campaign, as you would expect them to do. In a General election civil servants do not have to work for Ministers on new policies or announcements. Instead they prepare briefs based on each leading party manifesto of how to implement their policies. In the referendum they should have done the same for Brexit.

We are where we are. They can catch up whilst awaiting the new PM. The good news is the civil service has many civil servants currently working on negotiating new laws, policies and budgets with the EU who can be switched over to handling the transition to self government, and assisting in the negotiations. They know the people and the issues.

The Business Department needs to crack on with setting up a proper trade talks unit. It always used to have one, and has some people working on the implementation of EU trade policy anyway. Some say we need a large number of trade negotiating specialists. Whilst clearly the unit needs high level political and official leadership from people who know how to negotiate and who know the detail of trade matters or have access to those who do, the general issues of trade talks and the detailed issues of tariffs and other barriers can be handled by general civil servants or business people who will soon be expert in the field. There are plenty of model agreements around the world that can be the basis for such deals. The UK after all inherits 53 from the EU as they novate to us and to the rest of the EU on exit. As the UK aim is to reduce as many barriers as possible you start with a list of the current barriers and work away from there. Why pretend it is so difficult?

Yesterday I was talking to various business people from around the EU on how the UK trade relationship with the EU might develop. As I expected, business interests on the continent do not want new tariff or non tariff barriers in the way of their trade with us, and understand they can still have tariff free trade if in turn they do not seek to impose any on the UK. Again I can’t see why people say this has to be such a difficult or long winded negotiation.

I ask again of those involved in business and the government of trade on the continent, what tariffs do you want to impose on us? Do you understand that if and only if you seek to impose tariffs on us then we can impose high tariffs on some agricultural exports from the continent, and a 10% tariff on cars, which I doubt the rest of the EU would want.

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  1. Caterpillar
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Are the 53 inherited agreements consistent with each other, and will they have most favoured nation consequences in the negotiations with the EU27?

    (Aside If Mrs May wins do we have any indication of her appointing a sufficiently Brexit focussed cabinet? We have seen Dr Fox back Mrs May, is it feasible that she can Brexit all the way?)

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      If Mrs May does win, it will confirm what a dreadful, wet, pro EU Libdim party the current Conservatives really are. A party who does not even want the sort of leader who will be an election asset. It will be very depressing.

      Voters did not vote Brexit to be led by someone like Mrs May with her dire list of lefty, big government, remain backers and career politicians.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic, I largely agree with your first and last sentences, but do wonder how many Conservative MPs dislike Gove, and how many fear that Mrs Leadsom doesn’t have sufficient frontline experience (or are simply envious).

        Next GE is May 2020, it is not clear that whoever leads the country for the next few years will still be the leader going into the GE. To me this is why Cameron going back on his Article 50 pledge is so disgraceful. He could have changed his cabinet, seen it through and then stood down.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

          I tend to agree on Cameron he has not behaved honourably either in the way he left nor the conduct of the referendum. He did though give us one.

          I suspect dire the Libdim/remain wing of the Tories will push Mrs Leadsom out by faux support for Mr. Gove. This in the hope that May has more chance against Mr Gove than Mrs Leadsom.

          What is surely very clear is that May would be far worse than either of them and as a remainer is totally unsuitable for the position. Bossy and boring with it too and lacking ballot box appeal.

        • Hope
          Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

          Leads maths more experience than Cameron and when he became PM. Looks as though he learnt nothing from his master over Lybia. Regime change is not our business and not worthy to lose lives of Brotish servicemen for vanity and egos of PMs.

          Chilcott report waste of space as predicted.

        • matthu
          Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

          I think Mrs Leadsom has more experience now than had Mr Cameron when he became PM?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        “Only I can unite the nation” says Theresa May on the front of the Telegraph today.

        Without the sloped pitch and endless government and BBC propaganda, Osborne’s threats, Obama and the rest then about two thirds of the voters would probably have voted to leave. Among Conservative voters and members it is probably even higher.

        So how will a tedious, remain person (supported by other dire remainers) and who lied to the public about border controls within the EU unite the nation?

        She also presided over huge open door migration while pretending to be trying to limit it to the tens of thousands. Unite the nation Mrs May, I think not.

        Leadsom or Gove will do that far better than any remainer can. A shame we could not have Boris as he would have been better at elections too.

        • A different Simon
          Posted July 7, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

          Theresa May is quite right – only she can unite the nation .

          Ordinary voters across the political spectrum will be united in their feeling of horror and revulsion if she becomes P.M.

          She is deluding herself if she thinks ordinary people cannot see through her .

          It is worth asking why she is so ultra authoritarian , delusional and has a combination of character flaws which would make even Boris preferable .

          I stand by my opinion that it is because she is a dangerous crackpot and completely out of control .

          Think Tony Blair X 10 .

  2. Mark B
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Our kind host talks about trade and business, but what of sovereignty ? Will we be a truly independent nation ? A nation able to make its own laws and govern its own affairs ? Or will we be part of some EU-Lite arrangement ?

    You forgive me but, I do seem to remember how England was stitched up post Scottish Referendum and, I have very little faith that the ‘consensus’ political class have what it takes to do the right thing.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      England was indeed stitched up by the Scottish devolution and post the referendum. The current arrangements are totally unacceptable and unfair to England.

    • Ian George
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      As much as I like Andrea and her clear and optimistic message I do now feel that the UK can only fully break orbit from the EU if her team and Gove’s team got together on this, perhaps with Andrea taking charge of all those civil servants and getting them all to work in the best interests of the country as a whole – not just the “have yachts”.

      It will take a monumental team effort from the Leave side to ensure that Brexit does what it said on the tin.

      If Theresa May wins I fear that all we will gain from all of this is a watered down version of what we had before – still subservient to the EU but beaten down and held up as an example to others who dare to try and scale the wall or dig a tunnel to escape its clutches, and we will have the BBC, Hammond, Osborne, Carney, to thank for all of their hard work in overturning the problem caused by Cameron’s foolhardy bluff to hold the referendum in the first place.

      Reply Tomorrow we vote to eliminate one of the 3. Then in all probability Gove and Leadsom can come together, as Mrs May looks very likely to be one of the 2 going forward.

      • Hope
        Posted July 7, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        Gove is toast. His credibility ruined.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      No answer came the stern reply.

  3. Richard1
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Some quick hits in this area would be positive for confidence to counter all the negative output from official sources such as the Bank of England and the current Chancellor. Was there not a proposal in recent years for a free trade zone – with some freedom of movement – between the UK Australia NZ and Canada, which was incompatible with our EU membership? If so reviving that might be a good place to start.

    The issue of financial passporting needs to get addressed in practice very rapidly. We now hear lots from financial institutions about moving jobs in the expectation this will not continue. It seems the new PM should focus on a high level market stabilising joint announcement with the German government, bypassing the posturing buffoons at the Commission. The EU has numerous crises to deal with – with the Italian banking system being first up. Germany should be able to impose a sensible attitude to dealing with the U.K. As a quid pro quo for the fudge that will be needed to keep Italy in the euro.

  4. formula57
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    So, “Apparently on PM orders the civil service did not prepare a brief on how to exit during the referendum campaign, as you would expect them to do”.

    Oh dear! What a tarnished legacy we leave!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Well Cameron & Osborne and the government leave a legacy that is rather more than tarnished.

      Cameron conducted a referendum, then sloped the pitch to a huge degree for remain (using tax payers money to tell tax payers how to vote) plus all the tentacles of government, the biased BBC, the treasury, Osborne’s threats, academia and the rest of the hangers on and grant recipients. Yet still he lost very convincingly indeed.

      And now we learn that the disgraceful man had not even prepared way for both outcomes.

      Doubtless the cowardly & dishonest remainer Mrs May will not even deliver Brexit if she does get elected.

      It will all be hugely depressing.

      • matthu
        Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Cameron & Osborne and Clegg & Mandelson & Hesseltine & Hague and Brown & Blair and Major’s legacy.

        • matthu
          Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

          How could I forget Clarke?

    • stred
      Posted July 7, 2016 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      To be fair, Eural has ensured that a civil servant has been chosen to lead the Brexit squad with Brexi tenthusiast and bin user Letwin. He is an expert in migration control and has been helping Mrs May in the Home Office. Here he is not telling the Seect Committtee how much they are spending on the Border Farce and being sent out of the classroom. Another Oliver to oil the process.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Amazing that Mr Cameron was so convinced that his argument would win, that he did not even want to consider any alternative, or indeed make any form of preparation for leaving.

    So has he actually done anything now he knows we are going to leave.

    Has the Civil Service been asked to make plans now, or is he still of the belief it is all a Nightmare, and article 50 will never happen if he delays things further.

    Surely we cannot still be in drift mode when other Countries are approaching us to do business can we ?

    Hardly the actions of a so called patriotic Politician.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      You ask:- Has the Civil Service been asked to make plans now, or is he still of the belief it is all a Nightmare, and article 50 will never happen if he delays things further?

      Indeed a very good question. I suspect unless we get Leadsom (or Gove if the remainers push him through) we will never get Brexit. May is just another Cameron, in fact she is rather worse. She should go, retire and spent more time playing with her silly shoes.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Not usually one to believe social media postings.

    But one doing the rounds in increasing postings, is that the rules for implementing Article 50 change on 31st May 2017.

    I have attempted to check this out, but to no avail so far.

    The suggestion is after this date no single Country can impose or apply article 50 on the EU unless they have approval from 14 other EU members (an EU majority)

    Do you know anything about this John, or is this simply another scare tactic.

    If true (and I hope not) then this may explain why some are looking to delay the necessary action.

    • Steve_L
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      It’s not true.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      I thought that hare had finally died in November 2014, but, no, it’s been revived and is now running again.

      “Denis Cooper Posted June 29, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      The hare keeps running, with ordinary batteries it would have stopped long ago but with these superior batteries charged up with suspicion it keeps going …

      On November 1st there will be a change to the system used for QMV, which will probably work to our disadvantage, but there will be no extension of QMV to new areas of decision making where it does not already apply … ”

      I don’t want to discuss it any further, I’m sick of trying to very kindly put people right on it and being accused of being an EU employee for my pains.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    It was Cameron’s duty to tell the Civil Servants to prepare for both outcomes he called the referendum after all. They should have done so anyway regardless. Doubtless May and her gang of dire remainers will tell them not to anyway, if she gets in.

    It will be hugely depressing if she does. Let us hope the Conservative Members have the sense not to vote for Mrs May. I assume the remainers will push Gove through, thinking Mrs May has more chance against Gove than Leadsom.

  8. Ian Wragg
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we can have trade delegates at the Embassies abroad.
    As someone who spent considerable time overseas I think the public would be amazed at the amount of work handed to Brussels.
    Our Civil Service has been little more than a branch office of Brussels and is staffed by Remainiacs.
    Starting at the top we need to clear out the stables and make sure anyone thwarting the will of the people will be shown the door.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Letwin said that in general our civil servants are excellent but there is one glaring deficiency – thanks to handing it all over to the EEC in 1973, we now lack expert, experienced, trade negotiators. The New Zealanders have kindly offered to lend us some of theirs. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

      • forthurst
        Posted July 6, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        “The New Zealanders have kindly offered to lend us some of [expertise in trade negotiation]”

        One thing the Kiwis discovered was that the Chinese were after farmland which they now possess. It is important that our trade deals are about tariffs, not the rights of foreigners to own our real estate. Let’s stop importing aliens and exporting our assets.

  9. Antisthenes
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Being out of the EU the UK can now change the pace from snail to rapid if the will of the civil service is there. Without the constraints of the EU and it’s cumbersome bloated bureaucracy we can start to get things done. Overcoming the UK’s civil service’s disappointment at leave winning the referendum will be difficult. Disappointed they will be as they will fear for their jobs and losing the easy life. Gone will be the EU bureaucratic gravy train and now instead of rubber stamping Brussels decisions they will actual now have to make their own.

  10. Christopher Hudson
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Carney has to go.

    • M Davis
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I second that!

      He has been talking down Britain ever since the Referendum began, as has George Osborne. They should both have kept their mouths firmly shut. They have both been an utter disgrace.

      And as for Cameron and not preparing a plan to leave, what else did we expect from that man? Also, why are the MSM and the Government both ignoring the one blueprint for exiting the EU, published by the ‘best’ researcher in Britain? I haven’t heard of another that has been so meticulously researched and put together. There is a reason for it being titled, ‘Flexcit’ and the answer lies in the title.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Hugely expensive and hopeless, rather like the rest of the state sector. He even thinks credit is flowing and the problem is a lack of demand. How out of touch can one be?

      Doubtless it will cost even more to be rid of him. Even if he clearly has played politics with his position rather than doing the job properly.

  11. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    It is all very well saying “we are where we are” but weren’t Cameron’s instructions to prevent the Civil Service contingency planning, and his subsequent breaking of his promise to stay on, a gross dereliction of duty ? And he’ll get away with it ?

    • zorro
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Yes, through his placemen in the higher echelons….


  12. oldtimer
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I await with interest the outcome of the final round of voting by Conservative MPs for the leadership. Will we see a stitch up to put Mr Gove into second place? I have no doubt that there some who wish to reverse the referendum result – including my own MP Mr Dominic Grieve. Gove vs May would assure a May win in the members vote; the result of Leadsom vs May would be in greater doubt. It would pitch conviction versus may be when it came to implementation.

    In these circumstances it is easy to see the civil service dragging it’s collective feet. In my view attempts to undo the referendum result would indeed be playing with fire. Mr Cameron was irresponsible in failing to instruct the civil service to prepare contingency plans for vote to leave the EU and for allowing the current hiatus to develop and fester. I have no doubt that the business communities in the UK and the rest of the EU want to carry on as before. It will be the posturing politicians and their bureaucrats who will run the risk of causing yet more mayhem by seeking to impose new barriers to trade.

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I am very much encouraged by your matter of fact presentation of this issue Mr Redwood.

    The nation needs to concur with your attitude and refrain from escalating concern. (Difficult with current media presentation I acknowledge).

    This is the business of government and our politicians will get on with it supported by the civil service.

    We, the public, do not need briefing or consultation at every stage. It has been made clear we want sovereignty returned without an EU light option. The new PM and cabinet must set the policy and get on with it.

  14. Elsey
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    The civil service is entirely pro EU. They are probably the last people in the country that should be entrusted with this. All you will get is even more delay and fake obstacles designed to stop Brexit. It’s happening everywhere already and the Brexiters don’t seem aware let alone capable of pushing the agenda.

    • zorro
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I can assure you that it is not entirely pro EU….largely but not entirely 🙂


    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Indeed the state sector was and is still hugely pro remain. A very good reason to leave.

  15. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    “The Civil Services needs to show its independence and skills”.

    Ha ha. Good one.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I watched the Lords EU Select Committee questioning Lidington and Letwin yesterday, and a number of interesting things were said, particularly by Letwin.

    One being that for the past eight days the whole of the government legal service has been committed to mapping all our EU-derived laws, not just statutes and SI’s but also laws created by the direct effect of EU regulations without any intervention by Parliament, and laws passed in response to ECJ judgements.

    Another being that government lawyers are adamant that by law the service of an Article 50 notice that we intend to leave the EU is a matter of prerogative powers and will not require any form of prior parliamentary approval. Letwin is a litigant in the impending court cases, albeit not in person.

    I also watched parts of a Lords debate which mainly consisted of members rehearsing old arguments, condemning the mistake made by the people when they voted to leave the EU, and in some cases pressing for the result to be neutralised in one way or another.

    It was a bit odd watching these mostly old unelected legislators-for-life complaining that it was mostly old electors who had voted the wrong way – but foolish and ill-informed old people, not wise and knowledgeable old people like them – and the young would have to be brought out in force to defeat them in the next referendum.

    Watching them in action it became even clearer to me that these Lords will be extremely reluctant to allow any measure to pass to implement the people’s decision, as promised by the government, whether that was an Bill to amend or repeal ECA72 or just a resolution for the activation of Article 50.

    • oldtimer
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      We have been warned! What they want is a return to serfdom for the unwashed – like the good old days when the people knew their place but this time with a new aristocracy, the EUrocracy.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted July 7, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink


        Perhaps it’s time for something akin to the French Revolution??

    • Colin
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      “government lawyers are adamant that by law the service of an Article 50 notice that we intend to leave the EU is a matter of prerogative powers and will not require any form of prior parliamentary approval”

      As a former government lawyer, I’m quite sure that’s correct.

      • zorro
        Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        This was all discussed during the passing of the Referendum Act, and was clear that it would be the government that would exercise the prerogative powers. It ill behoves some of these parliamentarians to have selective memory failure…..


    • Mark B
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      And now you know why I firmly believe that the HoL needs to be replaced with an elected Senate.

  17. Ken Moore
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Earth to Conservative party…Earth to Conservative party…

    Mr Cameron’s modernising wing of the party lost the support of the country and overwhelming support of Conservative party voters despite the most one sided and dishonest of campaigns….now isn’t the time to be closing ranks to ensure the clique at the top continues as before …
    Except you lost and remember your supposed to be a DEMOCRATIC party…

    With the likelihood of tactical voting to deny 100,000 party members the opportunity to elect Andrea Leadsom what chance is there of a meaningful withdrawal from the EU?.

    If Conservative mps are foolish enough to pursue this strategy, the irony will not go unnoticed by those that wanted out of the Eu mostly because of its autocratic and undemocratic nature..

    The only planning seems to be is how to side step the democratic will of the people if they were sensible enough to ignore Boy Osborne’s silly scare stories.

  18. Lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Of course the main skills the civil service (and local authorities) do seem exhibit are those of taxing, inconveniencing, over regulating, fining, charging licence fees too and generally getting in the way of the productive, economic growth and any employment growth. This to fund their wages and gold plated pensions and justify their jobs.

    We need far less of these very damaging “skills”.

  19. agricola
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    In terms of the EU, who do we negotiate with. If left to their committee for trade negotiations it will lose focus and be open to foot dragging by vested interests. The latter is what the EU is about. The EU/USA negotiation has taken nine years to date in horse design, but has yet to produce a camel.

    Better I think we convene a meeting of leading EU export industrialists and pragmatic national politicians as it will directly affect them rather than the Brussels bureaucrats. Evolve a way forward and then tell the EU to draft the agreement , treaty or whatever you wish to call it.

    Our bottom line should be no subscription fees for the privilege of trading. Tariff free trading as it at present exists. Open financial trading. No change in the existing status of resident populations for as long as they wish to stay in the UK or EU. An acceptance by the EU that we will have effective border controls which allow into the UK financially self sufficient retirees, workers with job invitations, and tourists. Our right to deport whence they came any illegal immigrants current or on arrival. A right to refuse criminals and to deport such on conviction. It is cheaper than imprisoning them in the UK. Cooperation wherever it is advantageous to both sides. Reversion to international maritime borders and fishing rights.

    As you imply, it is not rocket science.

  20. Old Albion
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I have to remind you JR, we are not yet an independent (dis)UK. Indeed since the referendum we are in the same position as before it. Until aticle 50 is enacted there can be no change. I’m still of the opinion there’s skullduggery afoot.

  21. Jumeirah
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood: this is all very fine and we need to have a plan and you have suggested one. HOWEVER we have not yet got past the 1st hurdle which is our ability to TRIGGER Article 50 in order to confirm to the EU AND the rest of the world that we are leaving -everything else is academic- it is both theatrical and theoretical. Will the next PM EVER trigger Article 50; will he or she be able/allowed to trigger Article 50/ will the next PM want to trigger it?
    Given this uncertainty and I realise that we have to have A PLAN – what is the point of some bloke going off around the world starting prelim discussions regarding Trade when their response will no doubt be “” listen chap – come back to us when you are in a position to actually start serious discussions with us so that we can move forward on this. Right now you have not reached the point when you can do this”‘.
    IF in Law the PM has the sole authority to trigger it – trigger it now. If not forget Leave as it will take years of legal challenges through our Courts by which time the moment will have past.
    Deeply cynical

  22. brian
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    It would not have been possible for the civil service to produce a coherent plan for Brexit. The possibilities are too many and complex to be presented to the population at large. Any suggestions made would have been criticised as being inadequate or inappropriate, probably by people who frequent this blog.

    • oldtimer
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      The plan would be for the PM, ministers and the government not for public consumption. No doubt it would describe options, negotiating objectives, risks and opportunities and other necessary ingredients including the obvious uncertainties about the stance of the other party.

      • zorro
        Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        Exactly – they were doubtless told not to do anything which might be ‘helpful’ or accept another potential reality. These are serious matters and strike at the heart of good governance within a country. This will be a tough battle but fortune favours the brave…..


    • David Price
      Posted July 7, 2016 at 5:03 am | Permalink

      Of course it would have been possible. Proposals have already been made from the strategic and straightforward by our host, to the complicated and more detailed such as Flexcit. Over the years there have been many more assessmentrs in between.

      Doing nothing is an abnegation of responsibility and duty.

  23. Bob
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    “I can’t see why people say this has to be such a difficult or long winded negotiation. “

    It’s part of the process of conditioning the public for the backsliding & fudging designed to keep the UK tied to the EU.

    Mr Cameron needs to be called to account for telling the civil service not to undertake any Brexit planning, this is unforgivable.

    • zorro
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      It is good to see people in their true light, and at least confirms my gut feelings about Mr Cameron.


    • graham1946
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink


      Mr Cameron will not be called to account for anything at all. The focus has now shifted to the Chilcot Report – timing of publication a coincidence and very handy? After all the years of delay and drift, how fortunate it is that Chilcot will now drown out everything else.

      Teflon Tony is busy trying but failing to shore up his already ruined reputation – can’t polish a turd I think is the crude but apt expression. He needs to be thankful for his millions and now just fade into obscurity. It is quite apparent that Parliament will not impeach this man, there are too many skeletons rattling around in too many cupboards.

      • stred
        Posted July 7, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        Tony said he would invade again and Dave thought his helping the Benghazi freedom fighters against Madaffi was a good idea too when still doing his PMQT, standing by his Shoe In on the front bench.

  24. Edward L
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    A good legal team and quality negotiators are more important than the number of negotiators. This was bourne out by the tiny New Zealand trade team which has trade deals seven times the size that the EU has negotiated. Having a Minister in the meeting or nearby is crucial so that authority is given or easily accessible. Knowing your bottomline also is vital. Every ridiculous proposal must be matched with an equally daft proposal, so when the EU demands £10 billion for access to their market, demand £11 billion to access the UK market. And yes, be prepared to walk away.

  25. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I am becoming increasingly concerned that people who voted in a majority for Brexit are going to be denied their democratic right. The broadcast media are runnning a campaign with the intention of emphasing division and undermining confidence and the political and governing establishment, as with Carney of the B of E yesterday, are providing the example and encouragement. There are many in the Remain camp who reject the vote and are turning to threats. All this made worse by a strong suspicion that the ‘civil service’ is heavily politicised in favour of EU membership and could well subvert and delay plans for withdrawal.

    When people look at the supporters of Theresa May for the leadership there can be little confidence that she will wish to withdraw us from the EU and it could be that tacitly if not openly she will encourage her MPs to vote against any plan.

    If it not brought about soon and the Leave side defended there will be civil strife.

    • Tedgo
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Cancelling one’s direct debits for council tax and the BBC might attract some attention, think of Poll Tax.

  26. Bob
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    The Establishment have gone into overdrive to ensure that Theresa May doesn’t have to stand against Andrea Leadsom on the final ballot paper.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and if they get Mrs May elected they will also go into overdrive to ensure that we never leave the EU.

      They will have to check that the current Brexit feelings of voters still has momentum (as Heseltine puts it). They will ignore the referendum in other words or hold another one.

  27. Bert Young
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Front line politicians need the scenario of detail from the Civil Service ; this relationship is vital and under the guidance of its Head who , at all times , should be impartial . There have been many criticisms of ” Sir Cover Up ” – most of those published I agree with ; he should now be replaced with someone of top level calibre .

    When ” outsiders ” are brought in to add to the balance of judgement in the centre of government , care must be taken to select and invite only those who reflect the democratic opinion of the country . In the past this has not always been the case and has led to bias in the decisions formed . At this moment there is a ” nasty smell ” of outside influences attempting to sway the HoC s’ procedures and the outcome of the referendum .

    Today we await the Chilcot Report ; this may well reflect also on the way the Civil Service gave guidance to it and contributed to its delay . I hope it does not mince its words or shies away from blaming individuals .

  28. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The terrifying collapse of the pound continues, yesterday the trade weighted sterling index was 78.5099, and it hasn’t been that catastrophically low since … March 2013:

    Not 1985, as the media tell us, but March 2013.

    • zorro
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, I have been trying to explain this to people, but some people seem to have an inability to think that anything negative has happened whilst we have been members of the EU or that there are any dangers on the horizon. The power of the media and ‘group think’…..


    • acorn
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
    • rick hamilton
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      When I first visited Japan in 1974 the exchange rate was Yen741 to the pound sterling. Before the referendum it was Y153 or about one-fifth of its value when we first joined the EEC and is now about Y131.

      This precipitous fall in sterling compared with one of the world’s most stable currencies can hardly be attributed only to EEC/ EU influence. Nor can the decline of manufacturing to about 18% of GDP be seen in this way. However, there must have been greater competition as a result of joining which British industry (with its endless strikes) was ill equipped to resist. We were told by Heath that we would have free access to (was it ) 9 other markets without bothering to consider the effect of all their strong businesses having free access to our own markets (and fisheries).

      The fact that we now buy so many of our manufactured products from the continent is being put forward as an advantage in trade talks, whereas it is in world terms a weakness as we are just not as competitive as we should be. The shocking thing is that no political leader seems to have the slightest idea how the country is going to earn its living in the 21st century, in or out of the EU single market.

      Since we have no massive natural resources to speak of that we can sell, our success or otherwise outside the EU will surely be determined by our ability to make and export top quality goods that the world wants to buy. It is not enough for government to hope that the private sector will somehow come up with the answers if they continue post-EU with high taxes, wasteful green delusions and an obsession with City traders playing around with other peoples’ money. This does nothing for millions of angry voters in the former industrial heartlands.

      They need to focus in future on motivation and incentive rather than regulation and control.

  29. margaret
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The news is full of the Chilcot enquiry at present. Let us hope that Brexit deals will not take as long. Initiating new trade must be done on results, not by salaried players whose self interest would be in taking time and employing too many lawyers to prolong the procedures. I am a true blue in this respect and would welcome a good bonus for good performance.
    Let us hope that the votes which didn’t go to Mrs May , go to A Leadsham , although apart from her remain views Mrs May is very experienced .

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if the BBC will be reporting Chilcott for as long as it banged on about phone hacking.

  30. Gordon
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Please forgive me If I am wrong but I’m sure I saw on TV the other day that the team set up to ‘negotiate’ our exit form the EU is virtually the same team that was involved in David Camerons renegotiations for a reformed EU ! and who achieved/received almost nothing. That is very reassuring — NOT !

  31. John O'Leary
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    .. .we can impose high tariffs on some agricultural exports from the continent, and a 10% tariff on cars, which I doubt the rest of the EU would want.

    But only if we impose identical tariffs on non-EU members of the WTO. Doesn’t sound like a winning move to me!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      It would be no change if once outside the EU we imposed the same tariffs on the EU countries as those we are already imposing on countries outside the EU while we are in the EU, namely the EU’s common external tariff. I hope it doesn’t, but if it came down to a choice between our government paying a substantial fee so we can trade with 7% of the world’s population inside the EU’s tariff wall, or trading with that 7% over their tariff wall with our government making a net revenue gain from the tariffs because of the chronic trade deficit we have with them, and simultaneously trading freely with the other 93% of the world, then I would opt for the latter.

    • acorn
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Agreed John. The WTO option requires common tariffs and as far as I understand it, the UK does not inherit the 36 EU FTA,s for the 58 markets. The UK and the EU will have to reset the FTAs with the WTO members under the rules.

      Again, as it was explained to me last week, Even if the UK agrees some EU single market access, it will be as a third party; it will still have to negotiate agreements with the remaining 130 odd WTO members.

      It’s all doable but it will take time. Or, we could go for the Singapore option!

  32. Mark
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Trade agreements are a little more complicated than that – in part because of the WTO rules that can have knock-on effects elsewhere that were maybe not intended, and in part because agreements can have unexpected and sometimes unwanted effects. I have given before the example of the bizarre case of South Korea importing oil all the way from the North Sea, simply because as part of its trade agreement with the EEA, it abolished its high import tariff on crude oil for EEA origin – but kept it for its normal sources of supply in the Arabian Gulf and Far East. The result was a need for the EU including the UK to import more oil from further afield at greater cost. The only beneficiaries were the shipping companies, and possibly Norway, which as a substantial net exporter of oil was able to secure higher prices for its output.

  33. Stuart Saint
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    The starting position has to be Free Trade. Not sure I trust any CC currently working with Brussels and in particular FO officials, whole dept taken hostage on current evidence, particularly SoS Hammond who should be excluded immediately.
    As should Letwin.

    Congrats for supporting Andrea Leadsom, I will vote for her if we get the opportunity!

    Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    There is one overwhelming view throughout the world at the highest levels of Finance and Governments; namely, the UK will NEVER actually leave the EU.

    No real and practical activity so far by the UK Government indicates they are wrong.

    Posted July 6, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Off Topic:
    Looking at the Tory Party leadership results thus far, there is speculation that tactical voting will take place to ensure Mr Gove will gain second place: tactical voting by new and old supporters of Ms May . So, only the two will end up on the ballot paper for ordinary Tory Party members to vote upon.
    The Country is not going to vote in a National Election for May or Gove. They have a whole camel train of luggage. They are OK for rock solid Tory seats. But the tiny majority in Parliament needs a high-flyer like Leadsom to ensure even existing Tory MPs keep their seats

  36. Gina Dean
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    If we do not activate article 50 till next year how will it effect us when majority decision comes in to being in March 17. The EU could surely block our exit and lock us in for ever.
    I think it would be better if we leave and join the WTO immediately. Then if the EU want to have a trade deal with us they have to come to us, which puts this country in the driving seat.
    I hope that the government does not do any back room deals to delay and water down the referendum.
    Are you involved in putting together a plan to leave I very much hope so as your insight on what is needed is clear.

    • Mark
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Your fears about the ability to exercise Article 50 are unfounded. It is entirely a matter for any state that chooses to secede. Having done so, the EU is then obligated to negotiate and conclude an exit treaty – an obligation that is only met when it is concluded, which would require a) a majority vote in Europarl, and b) a QMV in the European Council (of PMs from each country), and c) the approval of the UK. Even if no treaty is complete at that point, at the end of two years the seceding state is itself free of any EU treaties and monetary obligations. However, the rest of the EU remains obligated to conclude an exit treaty, even though we have left. It would be in our mutual interest to improve on simply leaving the EU. Only if we and the rest of the EU agree, we could continue to be subject to EU treaties and law and the requirement to fund them after the two year period expires. I can see that the other 27 might want that, but we are unlikely to.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 7, 2016 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      “when majority decision comes in to being in March 17.”

      There were 82 occurrences of the word “majority” in the original 1957 Treaty of Rome establishing the EEC:

      That doesn’t mean that there were 82 areas of decision making where member states had no veto and decisions were made by qualified majority voting, there being repeat occurrences of the word in the same area, but you can scan through and pick out the areas where majority voting already prevailed in 1957.

  37. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I read here:

    that the government was given seven days to put forward its case that the activation of Article 50 was a matter of Royal Prerogative; and I read here:

    that they have done that.

    So now we must wait to see what the judges say, but in the meantime I would like to make my own response not as a government lawyer or any other kind of lawyer but just as an increasingly angry citizen who voted in the referendum on the basis of the crystal clear promise in the government’s official booklet delivered to every household:

    “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.”

    And my reaction is this: I am a firm supporter of Parliament as the central institution of our national democracy, but I have no time for those among the present members who were too indolent or too stupid to assert a claim to control the activation of Article 50 before the referendum, and wait until after we have voted to say that it should be their decision not ours as we were promised.

    As I have said, parliamentarians had at least three good opportunities to assert that claim during the passage of Bills in 2008, 2011 and 2015, but were not bothered to do so; and on February 25th 2015 MPs were told in terms that in the event of a vote to leave the EU the government would proceed to serve an article 50 notice without any further process in their House, but they did not take any of the various opportunities to react to that either before the government distributed its booklet, or before polling day.

    If that wasn’t indolence or stupidity or incompetence, it was sheer cynicism.

    Posted July 6, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic: Chilcot Report
    Only heard a few headliners in the BBC Parliament today.
    Thus far it meets lean expectations.
    Seven years to come up with only half of what ordinary people knew at the time and with much greater certainty, is pretty much a waste of time except perhaps to assuage the consciences of all those who voted for that very wicked of wars.

    9/11 was the knock to the American knee which triggered “Get them A-Rabs back!”
    The UK had little choice in practical terms but to follow American hurt politics.
    We do not have the military capability to defend our people in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. Only the US sixth and fifth fleets can do that against an upcoming China and yes, India too, make no mistake.

    Of course there was no justification to invade a country that had not attacked us, did not plan to attack us, obviously had no WMD and if it had would not have dared deploy against overwhelming retaliation to oblivion. The leader of Iraq systematically wiped out future ISIS and ISIL terrorists and kept Iran busy locally at its borders.

    But it seemed Mr Blair enjoyed being collared at the neck by the US and led wherever the President cared to walk him. By all means as a slave do what you must do to survive and hope and pray for future freedom but don’t develop Stockholm’s Syndrome in the process or, your countrymen and women may think mistakenly you are a traitor and war criminal.

  39. graham1946
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Why is it so difficult? As you say it’s not, but there are so many who are mostly concerned with proving they were right to support Remain. It seems to be more important than getting the country on an even keel and on the way to increased prosperity. They won’t accept Leave, even though the people have spoken and shenannigans are surely afoot to stop it. Mrs. May being elected may be the first bit. She will backslide for sure. She didn’t have the courage to properly campaign for Remain and is no Leaver. She does not deserve to win, but probably will. The Tories have an uncanny knack of voting for the wrong candidate. Look right back to Mrs. Thatcher – every one since a loser.

    Carney and Boy George are doing their best to talk the economy down aided and abetted by the BBC who are still campaigning for Remain. Pity the election of a new leader is taking so long, causing paralysis. Carney should be on the first plane home. We are no better off for his stewardship of the BoE. Carney will of course depart these shores with his pockets full of UK gold regardless (doubt he’ll want pounds as hes managed to talk the currency down and if he lasts much longer will surely engineer his recession).).

  40. hefner
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable summer holiday reading “a very British coup”, 1982, Chris Mullin. Difficult not to find things in it with contemporary connections.

    • zorro
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Intelligent and decent guy who lives by his principles (don’t necessarily agree with his ideas but respect him as an individual)…


  41. REPay
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I am concerned that the Civil Service lacks any sort of commercial abilities and that our Foreign Office has always held commerce to be a place for the division two players. These, after all, are the people who gave us our expensive PFI deals and have never negotiated an IT contract that did not either overrun or crash and burn – NHS Records for example – GBP19bn…

    However, on the day Chilcot emerges I am reminded that the MoD senior cardre, one year, managed to negotiate themselves GBP47m during the Iraq while our troops lacked body armour, so perhaps I am being too harsh.

    • REPay
      Posted July 7, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      “themselves GBP47m during the Iraq while our troops lacked body armour, so perhaps I am being too harsh…@

      The reference was to a bonus for MoD officials…

  42. brian
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    It is amazing the amount of paranoia I see on this blog by people who evidently voted for Brexit. I think it must be in their DNA.

  43. Chris S
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    It’s clear that hardly any businesses ( except perhaps French State-owned ones ) would want to see tariffs imposed on UK-EU trade where no currently exist.

    The decision to impose any at all would therefore be entirely a political one – nothing more than a blatant attempt to discourage other countries from contemplating leaving the EU or an equally blatant attempt, most likely by the French, to “steal” our lucrative financial services business.

    There is no legitimate or legal basis for Brussels to insist that all trades involving the Euro should take place in the Eurozone any more than if the Americans tried to prevent Hong Kong and London trading in Dollars.

    With Hollande gone by mid-May 2017 and Merkel insisting that the leaders rather than the commission undertake Brexit negotiations, we can only hope that commons sense will prevail.

    As you say, if they go for Tariffs, every one loses but with their trade surplus with us, it will be countries like Germany who will lose out the most.

    Tariff-free trading in goods, particularly motor vehicles, will be a useful lever for us to use in respect to Financial Services.

  44. Newmania
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I think John is suggesting we can have access to the single market without having to abide by any of the rules applicable to it or the basic freedoms
    This is clearly nonsense and there has never been any serious suggestioon by anyone that such a thing would be possible

    Reply I am saying we keep in place the market rules we have agreed with them, but no freedom of movement or financial contributions

  45. Very tired now
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    This blog is like the calm voice of complete sanity in an asylum. Are there no others like JR in public life ?
    Agree with Heffner above re A very British Coup, but saw film rather than read book.

  46. forthurst
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Gove needs to answer why in retrospect he still found himself able to justify our loss of blood and treasure in Iraq in order to ‘fight terrorism’ on Andrew Marr whilst not concurring with Kenneth Clarke’s criticism of his putative prime ministership as leading to our being at war with three countries at once. WWIII, anyone? Brexit for me without the trimmings, please.

  47. John Robertson
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Its worth asking these questions of those who are ro the “single market”

    Who made your TV?
    Who made your phone?
    Who made your laptop?
    Who made your car ?
    Who made the sound system in it?
    What restaurants have you been to lately?
    What country made the clothes your are wearing?
    Which country made your shoes?
    Who made your washing machine?
    Who made your fridge?
    Who made your cooker?

    And most Who made your TV?
    Who made your phone?
    Who made your laptop?
    Who made your car ?
    Who made the sound system in it?
    What restaurants have you been to lately?
    What country made the clothes tour are wearing?
    Which country made your shoes?
    Who made your washing machine?
    Who made your fridge?
    Who made your cooker?

    And probably most will be non EU countries without any trade agreement with the EU. It’s a racket

  48. Javelin
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Every 6 months I post a reminder that a particular Italian bank has massive bad loans and is sitting on a highly risky set of derivatives. There is a continuous downward trajectory in Southern Europe – it is only a matter of time before something happens.

    The main loser will be a large German bank which is leveraged so deep sunlight can’t reach it. Thankfully we are now out of the EU. Not sure how the rest of the EU will feel when they pick up the tab.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2016 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      A) We are NOT out of the EU

      B) If there was worry about PIIGS going bust and destroying the EU then they’d better be careful with the British economy if, indeed, we are going to remain (against the will expressed in the referendum.)

      We actually had nothing to lose by voting Leave !

  49. John Bracewell
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Just throw a few words together and see of you can attribute them to the correct leadership candidate.
    Little/no commitment to the EU referendum, the most important question for decades.
    Nasty Party.
    Missed immigration targets by a factor of 300%.
    Took 10 years to rid the country of one of its enemies.
    Lacklustre, cold fish.
    Wants to retain membership of ECHR.
    Wants to delay Article 50 invocation for months, had no plan for EU exit like the rest of the government.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2016 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      Looks in poor health too.

  50. Caterpillar
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Slightly off topic – Grant Shapps is reportedly calling for the leadership election to be over by the end of July. Is it not possible to respond to this or even quicker? Dragging it out until September just causes more delay and uncertainty, more Remain behaviour even if Mrs May doesn’t win.

  51. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Why is everybody making this so difficult? Our basic stance in all trade negotiations should be that free trade is a right, not a priviledge.

    Regarding Brexit, we want a divorce from EU law and political institutions as soon as possible. We want an end to payments of £14 billion per annum to the EC. We want our fisheries back.

    In exchange, we would accept that tariffs and non-tariff costs on UK exports of goods and services to EU-27 be imposed, the total not to exceed £3 billion per annum, without our retaliating at all. That’s a profit of £11 billion per annum. (The £3 billion figure is roughly what would be imposed if we accepted a one sided version of the EU-Canada deal).

    Why don’t we ask if we can repeal our Act of Accession to the Lisbon Treaty so that we can leave the EU in much less than two years? They can only say ‘No’ and Jean-Claude Juncker wants to see the back of us.

    On immigration from EU-27, those who arrived legally up to June 23rd 2016 can stay. Those who arrived after that date can’t. I hope that Mrs May has done her job and put in place systems that enable us to know.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2016 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      Imagine the protests. People chained together to thwart removal. This is going to be a lot harder than we imagine.

  52. Mark
    Posted July 7, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    BIS did do a study of the impact of letting Brussels be in charge of trade here:

    It suffers from a pro EU bias (there is for example no reference to the Swiss study that showed a clear benefit to negotiating bilateral deals), but it does at least cover much of the ground and provide an introduction to some of the issues invovled in the negotiation of trade deals.

  53. a-tracy
    Posted July 7, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I think there was a plan in the event we vote leave and I think it is being followed faithfully.

    The top tier knew that if DC resigned there would be weeks of disruption and time to create enough panic so that the people will think some rubbish deal with the EU will save us all. Continuous negative reporting, i.e. when the FTSE 100 was going down we were sinking, when it was rising it doesn’t count we should only look at the FTSE250. Then there was the pound the lowest in 31 years – even when it rallies there is a further doom warning. How much better for the likes of Dyson to promote their new hairdryer and cordless vacs around the world, surely we do have some sales people left, our business MPs should be setting up immediate trade missions.

    Everyone has been moaning about London property prices rising around £100,000 in just one year this was never sustainable, and putting these small apartments completely out of the reach of UK residents, however, now this is dooms day scenario also.

    I read an article where people couldn’t believe the Welsh, who got lots of handouts with the UK’s rebate instructions from the EU, voted Leave well perhaps its because those people knew the number of employers and jobs that had been tempted away from Wales with EU grants and help to relocate to the likes of Poland and Slovakia leaving them as low paid workers or claimants with a begging bowl rather than skilled workers in Industry.

  • 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.

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