Good and bad consultants

Much modern government depends on consultants. If a Council or the central government needs access to special knowledge or expertise on a temporary or one off basis, then consultants can be a good idea. There are some excellent lawyers, architects, surveyors, finance specialists and others that the state can hire to perform specific roles which it would not wish to employ full time at high salaries in a government department.

There can also be too many consultants. Consultants are bad value if they are hired to do regular work that could be undertaken by full time departmental staff more economically. They are bad value if they come in and seek to perpetuate themselves by making things more complicated than they need be, with a view  to creating a semi permanent role. I have come across this from time to time with transport and highway consultants. Many Councils today use these firms instead of having their own highway planners and engineers propose road schemes and then implement them. The consultants often wish to develop very expensive traffic models, then design schemes that can defy common sense. Sometimes these schemes get shot down by the democratic process before damage is done on the ground. Other times they are implemented, and can make the situation worse. Usually the consultants put in a traffic model  which then needs updating, offering them future work. If a Council does need a model then it should either create it itself, or buy it as a one off and update it itself.

There are rumours that a large number of very expensive lawyers and consultants are being hired to handle the Brexit negotiations. That is exactly what we do not want or need. There are MPs and think tanks who have studied and written extensively on EU matters who are happy to brief the officials being transferred into Brexit departments pro bono for free. I read that some of the consultants are busy working up the Norway option. Why?  The Leave campaign ruled that out at the beginning. There can be no compromise on freedom of movement. We just need to take back control – and soon.


During the many debates I did with the professional and business communities I was impressed by the lack of knowledge of the Treaties, the Directives and the institutional architecture of the EU shown by many of them. What is the point of having consultants if they have not read Lisbon or debated the Single European Act?


  1. Mark B
    July 26, 2016

    Good morning.

    There are very few knowledgeable people on the EU. That is because government and the media have done their level best to keep its workings from us. Only now have people realised what the EU is, and it is not what they want.

    Into this vacuum will come all sorts of ‘snake oil salesman’. But how can we tell the wheat from the chaff when, even our own parliamentarians do not seem to understand, or even want to know about the EU. I myself have been add painful odds with our kind host on this matter. I am not an expert, but I know when something is instinctive right or not. I have an inquiring and questioning mind. I do not take things at face value and want to know more about something before committing. Only then once I have looked at all the options available do I make a decision. And I am sure many are like that too a certain degree. We all place our trust in others and hope that they can do a professional job and act in our best interest.

    BREXIT is not a traffic scheme. It is, hopefully for us, a one off. It is that Saville Row suit that we always promised ourselves. We want a good job and have to look at the credentials and reputation of those that we are to seek advice on. It is up to people like our kind host to take care of the public purse and insure that the government is getting what is in the best interests of the country. There must be parliamentary scrutiny and, those responsible must be held to account. Only then can our national interests be safeguarded.

    1. David Lister
      July 26, 2016


      I think it is naive to believe that MPs and Think Tanks will be able to provide robust legal advice that can be held up to legal scrutiny for free.

      I am not a legal expert and wouldn’t pretend to be if that is not my profession. But I have chosen to follow the UCL debate of 6 legal and consitutional experts and it is quite clear that there some very complex consitutional questions, and points of law, that must be considered to establish if the Government can use the Royal Prerogative. Of course this is further complicated by Scotland and N.Ireland both being strong remain supporters.

      The UCL debate is here – it’s well worth a watch to understand the legal challenges that will arise:

      I am curious about your view to Scotland. Your blog is titled ‘John Redwood: Speaking for England’ and therefore I assume in your writing that you are not taking into account the challenges faced in keeping the Union together. Or have you already concluded that the breakup of the Union is inevitable?

      Reply The argument re use of prerogative powers is absurd. parliament can do what Parliament wishes to do. I am recommending a Parly process to leave the EU. There are many MPS with legal training. I support the UK Union.

      1. David Lister
        July 26, 2016

        (Union of United Kingdom, not European Union!)

      2. David Lister
        July 27, 2016

        If I understand the argument correctly, it is not suggested that Parliament can not do what it wishes. The issue is whether the Government can do what they wish without the backing of Parliament.

        But I am not familiar with a Parly process.

    2. Lindsay McDougall
      July 27, 2016

      What a faint heart you are. We simply want our freedom back. Only a total divorce from EU politics and EU law will do. We should repeal the Lisbon Treaty immediately so that Article 50 no longer applies and we don’t have to wait two years. Then set about repealing our Acts of Accession to the other EU treaties. In the process, we may need a General Election and the appointment of 500 Eurosceptic peers.

      Regarding negotiations over trade and payments to Brussels, we hold all the aces. If they impose severe tariff and non-tariff barriers on our exports to EU, then the £14 billion payment payable to the EC on 1st January 2017 will be the final one. If the EC wants these payments to be tapered off, then they must give us a good trade deal – NOT the Single Market and its chains.

      It would not be a good idea to retaliate immediately by imposing tariffs on EU-27 exports to us. Brexiteers are instinctively free traders and we want to promote the idea that free trade is a right, not a privilige. Retaliation is something to hold in reserve, like the sword of damocles.

      What else? EU laws and laws passed in response to EU directives would remain valid, provided they came into being on or before 23rd June, until such time as the UK parliament chose to repeal or change them. Those passed on or after 24th June would be null and void in the UK.

      We want control of immigration NOW
      We want control of our domestic markets NOW
      We want our own social and employment laws NOW
      We want freedom to negotiate trade deals with other countries NOW
      We want shot of EU laws and politics NOW
      We want our own energy policy NOW

      And we don’t want to join the EEA, which would give us the worst of all worlds.

      When push comes to shove, sovereignty is something to be GRABBED.

  2. petermartin2001
    July 26, 2016

    I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about the so-called single market. I wouldn’t say I was an expert but my company does trade with countries within the EU and EEA and also countries outside like the USA, Canada, Taiwan, China and Australia.

    There’s really not much difference in terms of difficulty. We do sometimes have to pay a small tariff, which is annoying but no more than that. These small tariffs , typically 5% or so, are best dealt with on a bilateral basis. How hard would it be to sit down with the Australians and Americans and agree to phase them out over a certain period? How much expertise does that require?

    1. Mike Stallard
      July 26, 2016

      The single market has its own standards and it has its own rules. If we just sit down with anyone, we agree to abide by the Single Market rules and we have, in fact, no say until the other 27 countries have said what they think.
      We are either in or out of the Single market.
      If we just leave suddenly, then the barriers will be put up at Dover just as they are at the moment and the lorries and cars will stretch right back to Peterborough as BIP checks are performed carefully and thoroughly by three officials. You are talking about months! or even decades!
      All the project fear would come true in a matter of hours.

      1. Denis Cooper
        July 26, 2016

        But we would not perform any BIP checks and the other countries’ exports to the UK would be completely unaffected, and none of them would miss any of our exports stacked up to Peterborough, not even the car factories waiting for the engines … I think not.

        But obviously it would be better not to put this to the test.

      2. forthurst
        July 26, 2016

        Mike. Tell us about the German cars piling up in Rotterdam and the French and Spanish perishables perishing in Calais. If the EU decided to cut off its nose to spite its face, the consequences for it would terminal as 500m people, suffering the consequences of a major self-inflicted recession, realised that bequeathing their futures to the likes of………. Merkel and Juncker was inadvisible.

        1. Ed Mahony
          July 26, 2016

          This is Brexit propaganda nonsense.
          Remainers never argued the EU would punish the UK with cripping trade barriers. But there would be some significant restrictions, obviously (you pay into the EU for certain privileges, and if the UK got these for nothing, other EU countries would say, ‘what about me,’ and the EU would quickly unravel (which would cost the EU far more than some relative loss of trade with the UK).
          But the restrictions to the UK would still be restrictions.
          Meanwhile, the EU hopes to regain some losses with trade with the UK, from taking some of our financial services and other trade. Also, the EU might be glad to see the back of a country that has been a thorn in its side for years.
          So what about us outside the EU?
          – Firstly, trade deals are incredibly difficult, and if done badly, could cost jobs (as Trump wisely commented in the convention recently).
          – Secondly, don’t forget countries outside the EU looking for trade deals with the UK don’t want to easy give us access to their market, and they’ll be ruthlessly trying to gain access to ours (and even more so if Trump becomes president of the US). China is pretty annoyed with the UK as it is after we’ve upset their investment efforts into the UK, using the UK as a gateway into Europe. So’ll they’ll be pretty tough with us as well.
          – Oh, and we don’t have any experience of negotiating trade deals (all our negotiators worked for the EU).
          – Not forgetting we’ve come out of worst recession in 50 years, no money saved up.
          – And, also, the USA and China and others won’t be interested in a lot of our products. Although we live in a global world, it would still be cheaper and easier for them to buy many of their products and services from their neighbouring countries (not forgetting the countries the US exports the most to are Canada and Mexico).
          – Not forgetting we still have to deal with the problems of Scotland, Trident in Scotland, N. Ireland and Gibraltar (all major headaches).
          – Not just that, all benefits of trade that other countries will enjoy from us, could have gone to building up our nearest neighbours for geo-political reasons (with long-term economic benefits from that, as well, not just security etc).
          – Not just that, but there’s no real evidence we’ll be able to drastically get immigration down at all (I mean consider how high immigration currently is from outside the EU into the UK, and Australia’s current direct immigration population is 27% compared to ours at 13%).
          – Not just that, but millions of Britains who aspire to buy a house or retire in the sunny Europe they love are now going to face major restrictions.
          – And then there are many other issues, regarding joint, macro economic projects across the EU (too big for just one country), joint big projects in science and technology across the EU (again too big just for one country), facing together as a group of EU countries many of the global economic and social problems together as opposed to a country on our own.
          – Overall, we don’t look that great at the moment to many Europeans, but not just Europeans, but to people in the USA, China and elsewhere, where we’re now seen as aloof, with most countries wanting us to remain in the EU so as not to upset the world economy at a time when it can do without any trembles or rumbles from Europe.
          And for what? Where’s the Brexiteers detailed plan of how they’re going to achieve something glorious outside the EU? If you walked into a bank and said you had to great idea for a business, but only had a sketchy business plan, you’d quickly be shown the door.
          Yes to strong reform of the EU, but not like this.

          1. forthurst
            July 27, 2016

            “Yes to strong reform of the EU, but not like this.”

            The EU is unreformable and has been ever since we joined. You need to get with the zeitgeist: we are all Brexiteers now. No one wants to listen to a remoaner.

      3. libertarian
        July 26, 2016

        Mike Stallard

        Total nonsense

        If you think that the French deliberatly stopped all those tourists visiting France to spend their hard earned cash in a failing French economy you are as deluded as the worst remainics

      4. Giles Brennand
        July 26, 2016

        We can trade with the single market without being in the single market.

        We want trading not political integration.

    2. Ken Moore
      July 26, 2016

      Indeed we do not see a collapse of Eu trade when there are currency fluctuations that incur additional costs on exporters…but we are expected to believe that 3% tariffs under WTO rules would stop trade altogether. It is nonsense .

      I do not trust Mrs May….I believe her mind is set on the no change ‘Norway option’ which she will push through using so called ‘independent’ expert lawyers and other advisors.
      The Leave vote was a protest against an undemocratic state and remote & faceless foreign officials Mrs May is using unelected lawyers and other ‘advisors’ to push aside democratically elected Mp’s. Shabby.

      1. acorn
        July 26, 2016

        Ken, it is becoming obvious now that Mrs May is the leader of a “mafia style” clean-up crew, after the Cameron / Osborne assassination. She has been mandated by the Conservative party, to clean up the blood and finish the implementation of the 2015 manifesto.

        The three stooges / brexiteers, are being sacrificed for the good of the party; and, I think they know what the Party expects from them. As I have said before, the Conservative Party MUST survive, regardless.

        My old EU number cruncher pals, are currently convinced, that Brussels apparatchiks are not expecting an Art 50 application, before the next UK general election. The Conservative Party Chairman is seeding the ground with his statement “Article 50 will be triggered before next general election”. You can guess what he will say next. Due to X,Y,and Z aligning with the planet Mars on a Thursday, it will not be technically possible to enact art 50, before the next general election.

        Reply Nonsense.

        1. Ken Moore
          July 26, 2016

          As far as the workings of the Conservative party are concerned, pessimism is never misplaced. I remember Dr Redwood chiding us for pouring cold water on Cameron’s ‘Bloomberg speech’….well look at what a hollow meaningless event that turned out to be….

          It was only Osborne and Cameron’s grotesque arrogance and hubris that resulted in a Leave vote….

          My reaction to Mrs May is similar that of Cameron – she isn’t a conviction politician just another political chancer determined to say whatever is needed to keep the ‘modernising’ England hating agenda on track. Her trick is she occasionally throws a few scraps to the non Blairites to keep them at bay…
          Article 50 will be delayed, fudged, diluted, bogged down in debate, sidelined

    3. JamesG
      July 26, 2016

      Agreed. I laugh when folk tell us about the 20 years Canada took to get a deal – as if that was anything other than an illustration of typical EU incompetence. My own products are priced in US dollars wherever they end up going and sales are via the web. The only complicating issue is VAT which is a dumb EU invention that we’d be far better off without. Markets are just not like they were 40 years ago.

    4. Ed Mahony
      July 26, 2016

      ‘How hard would it be to sit down with the Australians and Americans and agree to phase them out over a certain period?’ Incredibly difficult, if not impossible (for all tariffs) because all countries are, to a degree, protectionist (of certain parts of their industry). The need to make trade deals will always exist. The real focus is to create the best negotiating teams you can, because as Trump rightly says, ‘bad trade deals cost jobs’ (Brexiteers: be aware and sharpen up on this one)

      (And in the future it won’t be the EU bothering the UK so much, but the USA, China and others as we depend on them more for trade, in different ways, as they competitively try and secure the best interests for themselves at our cost – not forgetting, of course, that in helping them to increase their economies, although obviously benefits to us as well – we’ll be reducing the economy of our nearest neighbours here in Europe, to some degree, which will have knock-on geopolitical affects on us as well, including long-term economic ones, as well as not being able to enjoy the benefits of Europe so much either – such as going to easily live and retire on the Mediterranean or whatever which means so much more to most people than whether we have ‘control’ over certain laws or not).

      (Nor is there good evidence that we’ll be able to control our borders in the way we hope, when we should first be trying to control immigration from outside the EU, and baring in mind Australia’s current direct immigrant population is 27% whilst ours is 13%).

      (Lastly, not only are future trade deals a potential bad dream, there is also the concern about losing our investors like the Chinese using the UK as a gateway into the EU, as well as losing important financial services to Europe, whilst having major problems with Scotland, Trident in Scotland, N. Ireland, Gibraltar and more).

      (Yes to strong reform of the EU, but not like this).

      1. Oggy
        July 27, 2016

        ‘(Yes to strong reform of the EU, but not like this).’

        The EU is unreformable, the only way to get clear of it’s authoritarian influence is to leave.

        1. Ed Mahony
          July 27, 2016

          Of course the EU can be reformed (and by reform, I mean reform of the whole EU, not just concessions for the UK which is a different argument). Although of course, not easy. Germany went from a disaster situation in the 1940’s to a country of prosperity in the 1960’s. IBM (one of largest companies in world) nearly went bust few years ago until it was transformed back into a leading tech company. Reform of the EU is challenging but nothing compared to Germany and IBM and many other instances of near impossible situations.
          It’s much easier to knock Europe. Much more difficult to try and reform it so that you keep what is best about it whilst rejecting the worst. We’ve hardly tried that at all. Instead we’ve just gone for knocking the EU or else just ‘putting up with it’ when neither are the best or really imaginative and gutsy things to do.
          However, if we do want to leave the EU then we have to at least have a plan first how we’re going to do it, instead of just going into the dark on pretty much on a wing and a prayer at a time when we’ve just come out of the worst recession in 50 years with nothing saved up.

          1. anon
            July 27, 2016

            By voting to leave. The UK has done the EU a favor.Th EU may change but i would argue it will get worse before it get better or collapses. We hope the EU becomes successful vibrant economy so that all the current EU unemployed do not have flee in search of jobs elsewhere?

            We have given it 40 years too long!

    5. A different Simon
      July 26, 2016

      Petermartin2001 ,

      I think the fuss about the so-called single market is a Project Fear psychological operation .

      The object is to prey on timid peoples naivety and ignorance and try to disorient them – and then reorient them .

      Ultimately it is about exploiting “fear of the unknown” , just like the Lib Dem’s implying that the 3.5 million British jobs which are dependent on business with the EU will disappear .

      The other side of the coin is that many Britons have been reduced to penury over the past 40 years and consequently have nothing much left to lose by taking a chance on leaving the EU .

      Other than trade union activists , they were never taken in by the implausible UK/EU good-cop/bad-cop routine .

      I take great comfort from knowing that there are ordinary people like this on jury’s in a court of law rather than hand picked experts .

      Jury trial is something else which the UK needs to try and hang onto .

  3. Brexit
    July 26, 2016

    “the lack of knowledge of the Treaties, the Directives and the institutional architecture of the EU”

    We agree with you about the widespread lack of EU knowledge. It never ceases to amaze us when we see so-called experts and those representing vested interests, including many MP’s, who demonstrate such little knowledge of the EU and its structures that it would be embarrassing if it weren’t so serious.

    If we only take the upcoming trade negotiations, many months ago we wrote:
    “A New Deal For the UK”
    “This doesn’t have to take 5, 7, or 10 years, as is regularly claimed by the Remainders. Other countries manage it in 12-24 months. You just need the right teams doing the negotiating. FCO mandarins are not in this category, neither are most civil servants, sorry.”

    We went on to talk about the use of retired or semi-retired entrepreneurs who founded successful SME’s. Specifically we mostly excluded the highly-paid ‘bureaucrats’ who generally run the very large businesses and who are usually trotted out as ‘worthies’ when consultancy projects are being offered.

    We suggested that people with real experience of exporting and of negotiating commercial deals could be very useful in cutting through all the nonsense. Many of these will be people who campaigned for Brexit and who are more knowledgeable about the EU than the vast majority of Remainers.

    In respect of your comment regarding politicians being involved, we agree if this means people like you, Owen Paterson, and a few others. We’re still disappointed that Mrs May hasn’t seen fit to include your talents and knowledge within Government at this important time.

    Best wishes, the Team

    1. stred
      July 26, 2016

      The video made by the BBC puffing Vote Leave showed their contempt for UKIP and chose to parade the £350m a day to be spent on the NHS misleading advert on the side of their bus. They could not have made a film more helpful to the forces involved in overturning the Brexit vote. This bungled advert is still being used by media and politicians across Europe in order to say that the result is invalid, even though others in the Leave team such as JR repeated endlessly that the net figure was £200m and the words ‘some of’ applied. Their decision to not campaign on migration was fortunately ignored by UKIP and other ministers who drew attention to the problems of housing, health, education and low pay. These wonks would no doubt agree to label anyone mentioning migration as ‘uneducated, racist and hateful’.

      Let us hope their replacement consultants chosen by the largely pro- remain government are equally useless and that JR, IDS, Patterson and other MPs who know what is going on make it plain to the Brexit ministers, Mrs Leadsom and the Mrs Shoein that delay will cause much trouble at party conference time and, if necessary, a withdrawl of support. For the first time, I am thinking it will be necessary to send a subscrition to UKIP in order to avoid what happened in Norway ie a subversion of the popular vote by politicians. They have excellent potential leaders to replace Farage.

      1. stred
        July 26, 2016

        BBC video is shown on Facts4eu above.

  4. runningout
    July 26, 2016

    If you are on the outside you have control and choice of your time and input. People like David Davis will be reliant on “consultants” as they are whizzed from country to country, meeting to meeting under the stress of having to perform.

    1. formula57
      July 26, 2016

      People like David Davis, it would be hoped and expected, would be well-capable of acting as their own consultant.

      If Mrs May’s Brexit appointment choices are not up to the job, and/or if she is not, then perhaps there is someone else in Parliament who could be asked to help? It is a rather important matter, after all, so some effort to employ capable people would seem merited.

  5. Jumeirah
    July 26, 2016

    But Mr. Redwood don’t you understand – they are “‘experts”‘!

  6. Leslie Singleton
    July 26, 2016

    Unfortunately, with the likes of Boris and Hannan now increasingly backsliding on immigration, if there is any kind of negotiation, and there will be, free movement, like it or lump it, is going to be on the table. As I have said many times I for one am unable to see any trade related reason for free movement–its just so EU types can go on dreaming that their beloved EU is a single country. It’s the old ‘if p then q, not q not p’ which in this case means ‘no free movement, no country’–nothing to do with trade at all.

    1. Peter Davies
      July 26, 2016

      Freedom of movement is necessary for trade and a single market because there are many services that can only be delivered in person. It is impossible for a builder, a hairdresser, a taxi driver or a nurse to sell their services to British customers from Poland or Malta.

      1. Know-dice
        July 27, 2016

        But the EU is the only trade area that insists on freedom of movement of people (didn’t that used to be freedom of movement of labour?) in order to get free trade.

        You have to look at the major “pull factors”, if you were [for example] a Romanian, Bulgarian or Polish worker why wouldn’t you want to come to a country where the minimum wage is 4 or 5 times what you would get in your home country?

        Is it Ok for these workers just to walk in and potentially under the indigenous labour and businesses with fixed overhead costs?

        The EU with 28 countries that has economies and wages running at vastly different rates doesn’t work for the UK.

        All that is being asked is to be able to control who comes here and make sure that they are filling genuine gaps in the labour market.

        1. Know-dice
          July 27, 2016

          That should be “potentially undercut the indigenous labour” 😳

      2. Leslie Singleton
        July 27, 2016

        Dear Peter–So for the likes of the few people such as these, not exactly cross-border trade I’d say, the whole Continent gets turned upside down–Not for me thanks. Besides what does a Maltese builder know about British building regs?

  7. Al
    July 26, 2016

    I suspect this will be the same kind of consultants who suggested that very few SMEs would be affected by Digital Vat as few traded overseas. It was actually nearly 97%. For something like this hiring expertise means getting the people who already know the field and the laws.

    Otherwise the only reason to hire consultants instead of using subject matter experts (like MPs who have been reading these bills for years) is to get people who will make the reports say what you want them to, and have someone else to blame…

    1. libertarian
      July 26, 2016


      Exactly and probably would also be the same experts that recommended an apprenticeship levy ( tax) of 5% to create 3million new apprentices. Result? Apprentice places plummet

      Oh and the Ofcom experts who decide that an inefficient, uncommunicative private monopoly should be the sole provider of broadband services ( hint as well as breaking up BT and Openreach we also should scrap ofcom)

  8. Mike Stallard
    July 26, 2016

    Mr Redwood, “There are rumours that a large number of very expensive lawyers and consultants are being hired to handle the Brexit negotiations. That is exactly what we do not want or need.”
    Of course. You can recognise them by their suits with the very neat little pin stripe.
    What really distresses me is the way that Dr North has been sidelined. He really is the current expert on all this and he works for free!
    Yup, he is abrasive (so is Bill Cash I believe). Yup he does not suffer fools gladly (remember working for Mrs Thatcher?) But you should be bigger than that.
    For heaven’s sake do consider the EEA/EFTA option. It even allows the immigration problem to be addressed through Liechtenstein. It allows trade to continue unabated. It allows us to leave carefully and gradually like the Cheshire cat.
    Please, swallow your pride and take a look at It is all there for free.

    Reply I considered it carefully before the vote, and did not agree with him.

    1. Denis Cooper
      July 26, 2016

      Well, if you didn’t agree with him he’d tell you to go away.

  9. Lifelogic
    July 26, 2016

    You say:- They are bad value if they come in and seek to perpetuate themselves by making things more complicated than they need be, with a view to creating a semi permanent role.

    This is however so very often the case especially, when engaged by government bureaucrats. Indeed the bureaucrats largely have the same career driven approach and interests. After all it is not their money nor they who benefit from the spend other than as salary, pensions and careers.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 26, 2016

      Why do the BBC nearly always get almost every issue inside out and upside down?

      The main fault in the Sir Philip Green issue lies with the legal system, the pensions regulators, the laws & regulations, the pension muggings from Brown (and indeed Osborne) and the politicians who set the laws that allow companies to distribute funds when leaving pension fund short. If someone else had bought the company the financial logic of what he did would have been the same. The company would be more valuable to some one with this agenda. Yet the BBC has endless interviews with the people who actually caused the problem – almost all blaming Sir Philip. You need to change the law not appeal to “morality”. Better still leave pensions fund under the control of the people who will directly benefit from them.

      They then also described Theresa May’s idea of workers and customers on company boards as a “very good idea”, but one that might be dropped. I hope it is, the sooner the better.

      She has far more important things to get on with. New runways, cheap energy, a bonfire of red tape, cancelling HS2 and Hinckley Point, cancelling the green crap grants, getting out of the EU, reducing and simplifying tax laws, getting some decent health and education provision, some real competition in banking ……….

      1. Lifelogic
        July 26, 2016

        Workers on company boards was part of the rejected Milliband agenda. An agenda rejected even for lefty hug a husky, cast iron ratter Cameron. So it must have been really quite bad.

        Get on with a real pro growth, low tax, conservative agenda, it will work and will create jobs and growth. Stop dithering less than four years left. Cameron having wasted six already.

      2. stred
        July 26, 2016

        The new energy and industry minister has welcomed a decision by EDF, if confirmed, to build Hinkley Point. The cost to consumers is now 5x the original estimate. EDF engineers and unions think it is a liability but our minister cannot understand that it is too complex and big. In fact it is the only failed design in the world and has been abandoned by the Finns after their disatrous experience. The other junior ministers are also greenish and no-one with technical ability has been chosen.

        1. sjb
          July 26, 2016

          The EDF board meets on Thursday.

          The other day, Nick Butler wrote a piece in the FT on the answers the UK needs: sight of the expert assessments on the problems with the two EPR reactors in Finland and France; sight of the full contract; “proper financing plan”; and whether 2025 is still a realistic delivery date.

  10. alan jutson
    July 26, 2016

    Consultants are perhaps useful if they have a good and successful commercial background, otherwise from my experience, deal with them like the plague, and keep them far away.

    Far too many consultants have never had real commercial experience, or are failed businessman or woman.

    Given that we have 650 Mp’s in Parliament one would have thought that some of these could be useful to the government, but then there is the problem that the MP/Minister in charge perhaps knows less about his subject than a possible back bencher because they were the choice of the Prime Minister, and thus perhaps did not actually get the job on merit in the first place.

    Whilst I understand that you perhaps need to consider all options, If totally unsuitable Brexit options are being worked out, then someone in charge has either given permission or is not fit to manage.
    My one very big fear of Mrs May was her real commitment to fully leave the EU.

    What an insult to those who voted leave if we end up with a Norway type option, an opportunity hard won and hard fought for, absolutely thrown away.

    Agree that far too many road schemes seem at odds with common sense.
    The new A329 Junction layout with the M4 (which you have highlighted in your local issues post) is a proven point, where they have actually reduced the capacity for through traffic between Wokingham and Woodley by 50% by removing one lane from what was originally a two lane road.

    Consultants never seem to be around when the problems they have caused need sorting, unless of course they are paid even more money to return to try and resolve the problems they created in the first place.

  11. Denis Cooper
    July 26, 2016

    Ignorance and confusion about the details of the EU and its treaties and laws is widespread, and inevitably so because people have many other things to do with their lives than devote a lot of time and energy to studying it. That is not just the man on the Clapham omnibus and somebody trying to run a business but also politicians and journalists. And the instrinsic problem of its complexity – actually a good reason not to be part of it, in my view – is then compounded by the unscrupulous mendacity of many of its advocates and some of its opponents.

    I think we have to remember that the recent report about the activities of officials was in the Observer, which is not an impartial observer but is pursuing its own political agenda, and there may well be an element of psychological warfare insofar as it hopes to stir up division and discord among those who want us out of the EU. Heaven knows, it is never difficult to stir up division and discord among them …

  12. Dioclese
    July 26, 2016

    Not all of us are bad, John as I hope you will remember from the time we worked together on the PSA privatisation all those years ago. But I do agree with you that some consultants big up the task to boost their own incomes…

    1. Lifelogic
      July 26, 2016

      They certainly do and many do not have much of a clue what they are doing either, they do not really care what they are doing so long as they are being paid and rarely want to finish any job. The bureaucrats so often are appalling at selecting, contracting directing consultants in the right way too.

      But then do they really care, it is not their money nor they who will benefit if the job is done well. Indeed they might well lose out if it is done well. Their jobs might go if the consultant were too efficient.

  13. Ian Wragg
    July 26, 2016

    Who is authorising these consultants. Who has told them to work on the Norway option.
    We know that the great and good want this so someone at the top must have ordered it.

  14. Wingsovertheworld
    July 26, 2016

    Surely that is why we need level heads in positions of power? If you let the chickens run the farm, of course you will get chaos. I am wondering where Mssrs Davis, Fox and Johnson have disappeared to. I would like to think they are hard at work, directing the course of Brexit that they know us Leavers wanted to take, i.e. full control of our laws, taxes and borders. It is slightly worrying that, in the light of the Brexit-lite news, there has been a deafening silence from the aforementioned Brexiteers.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      July 26, 2016

      I am optimistic that messrs Fox and Davis are principled and committed to exiting the EU enough to resign if they are being played.

      The EU has moved from ” no negotiation before article 50″ to ” we could help on freedom of movement” in one month. It is quite possible that our Ministers for exiting the EU and developing international trade know a thing or two about empty vessels making most noise. Quiet diplomacy will win over negotiating through the media.

      Let the Foreign Secretary lull them into a false sense of security and then catch them unawares.

      On topic I agree that we should not use too many consultants or for too long a period, those that are used should be sparingly so.

    2. Lifelogic
      July 26, 2016

      “Brexit is means Brexit” we are told but that statement means nothing at all, doubtless why she said it.

      What is Mrs May’s version of Brexit and when will she deign to tell us?

      1. alan jutson
        July 26, 2016


        Given the above Brexit means Brevet which I agree actually means nothing.

        For better to use “leave means leave” as that was the choice on the ballot paper.

    3. Deborah Clark
      July 26, 2016

      I agree. There has been radio silence for quite some time.
      Whilst I am hoping that they are just getting down to business, and I understand that they may not wish to provide too much info about their ongoing discussions, it would be reassuring to hear from them.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    July 26, 2016

    As each day goes by it becomes clearer that Brexit will not mean Brexit. More obstacles are being put in the way of performing the simple and clear direction by the British people for the government to take the country out of the EU. As if there weren’t enough around already, more people are being recruited to tell us all the problems with leaving the EU rather than starting the process, confirming the intent and getting the job done. In life there are always those who are ready to tell you why something can’t or shouldn’t be done we want the doers and we need them to get on with it.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 26, 2016

      As you say “In life there are always those who are ready to tell you why something can’t or shouldn’t be done we want the doers and we need them to get on with it.”

      There certainly are – often they say something like:- “Well is it is such a good idea someone would have done it already” or “someone has done that before and you will never be able to compete with X”.

      Not much sign of doing anything much yet with this new government. Not even any real indication that they are going to be any different to Cameron and his tax borrow and waste, pro EU, greencrap loving, libdim lot.

      The do not seem to know what Brexit they want, what runways they want, if they want Grammar or selective schools, if they will kill the greencrap, if they will kill HS2 and Hinckley, what red tape they will get rid of, what taxes they will cut, how they will get some competition in banking or much else. Less than four years to go so get on with it.

      Then again she did go on about workers and customers on company boards (companies they do not own, nor know anything about) and people struggling to make ends meet, get the government out of their way then and untie them from red tape.

  16. Richard1
    July 26, 2016

    Another major rationale for employment of consultants in the private sector is backside covering – managements who wish to be able to say in answer to a challenge as to why such a course of action hasn’t worked: ‘such and such (presitgious name) advised it’. This must be particularly appealing to senior civil servants who arnt spending their own money. If the govt think expensive consultants are needed perhaps corresponding savings can be made in the permanent civil service?

    Certainly it should be possible to find many people – in public life and in the private sector – who would offer their services for free. I have seen letters in the papers from retired civil servants who have actually worked on trade issues offering to come back. There will be many such people in their 60s, 70s and even 80s who would still be in full command of their powers and would offer a much cheaper, and probably better service.

  17. Liz
    July 26, 2016

    The lack of knowledge of the structure and workings of the EU is no surprise since there is very little coverage of it in any kind of media. Despite so many of our laws emanating from Brussels, the BBC, ITV and Sky have very few journalists covering the EU government on a regular basis compared with the literally dozens of journalists that BBC for instance has for the increasingly powerless Westminster parliament. Either they are trying to hide from the public the extent of the loss of control of Westminster or they simply are ignorant themselves over what the EU does. Holding the Commission to account on behalf of the public never even crosses their minds – and they are still stunned at the result of the referendum. To what extent did they contribute to that result?

  18. Richard1
    July 26, 2016

    I find it simply extraordinary that Mrs May does not seem to have called directly upon the services of John Redwood, Michael Gove, Daniel Hannan – and Gisela Stewart. There cannot be a group of people more informed on the issue of the EU, more articulate, committed to see Brexit made to work – and cheap compared to consultants! Perhaps I will write my first ever letter to the PM & I suggest others do likewise.

  19. agricola
    July 26, 2016

    Your second paragraph, reference the use of consultants, is all too often an indication of the incompetence of the department hiring them. Such incompetents adopt the logic that if you are paying consultants vast sums of money then the advice must be good. All too often it is not. A brilliant engineering designer friend once stated that engineering developement is an indication that the initial design was not up to much.

    Alarm bells are begining to ring regarding the Brexit situation. I for one am begining to doubt the sincerity of May and her statement that “Leave means Leave.” As you point out, there is more than enough expertise around Parliament and members of the EU Parliament, in which I include UKIP and Nigel Farage, to offer May clear information. The decision was made by the electorate on 23rd June, all she has to do is implement it.

    There seems to be an acceptance that a wedge can be driven between Leave and Remain in the halfway house solution offered by Merkel and Hollande. Do these people not understand democracy as a none negotiable entity. Then we have the likes of Junker dancing on the fringe saying that even this is not possible if we do not accept free movement.

    Let me put it to you clearly, Leave really does mean Leave. It is what we voted for. Leave means not being part of the EU free trade area with all the baggage that this entails. We want tariff free trade because it is of benefit to both sides and in particular the EU. Failing this, trade under WTO rules is acceptable. We insist on control of our borders and immigration, our territorial waters, our law making, and above all total sovereignty. Get it done and quickly , there is a far more important task of re-establishing ourselves as a free trading country in a World market place.

    If May does not understand this she is in the wrong place and needs to be told so. If we do not get absolute clarity by the time of the party conference she should be left in no doubt that she is on borrowed time.

    1. Oggy
      July 26, 2016

      Well said, my thoughts too.
      The offer by Holland and Merkel et al re 7 years immigration curbs is just total arrogance and shows their utter contempt for our EU referendum result.
      It’s time Mrs May ‘grew a pair’ and told the EU to stick their contemptible offers where the Sun doesn’t shine.

  20. ChrisS
    July 26, 2016

    This is all too quickly developing into a typical Whitehall project. Ignore the people with real expertise and knowledge and fall back on all those familiar and very expensive lawyers.

    How long will it be before we are told Helena Kennedy is on board ?

    It’s about time one or two newspapers did a thorough review on the value of the Single Market and conclude that it is a waste of time even thinking of staying in it.

    We should do exactly as you suggest. Trigger A50 and advise we are offering tariff free trade

  21. Antisthenes
    July 26, 2016

    Brexit is a particular problem because what Brexit means has not been defined. Completely out or EU light. David Davies if he is pursuing the Norway option is not thinking of leaving the common market so we will end up not much better off than we are now. Unfortunately I believe the majority of leavers will be happy with this option and we who want total withdrawal wont get it. However the fly in the ointment will be the free movement position but then the 7 year brake may satisfy most even though the small print proves it to be a sham. I fear in the end we leavers are going to be very short changed.

    Governments are dangerous institutions as they take our money and misuse it and interfere in ways that undermines our democracy, our civil liberties and cause many problems that would not occur without them. Our domestic governments are far too large, complex and authoritarian so we can do without another one that is far bigger, incompetent and corrupt so EU light or otherwise we definitely do not want.

    1. Antisthenes
      July 26, 2016

      I foresee a problem for the Conservative party as many euro-sceptic MPs do not want the Norway option and if they rebel over it it could split the party again. It could also make TM call an election to increase her majority so as to silence you. Then we will definitely get something we do not want.

    2. Denis Cooper
      July 26, 2016

      When the UK is no longer a party to the EU treaties it will be out of the EU.

  22. alte fritz
    July 26, 2016

    Consultants are an alibi.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      July 26, 2016

      Dear Alte–Alibi means elsewhere

      1. Alte fritz
        July 26, 2016

        You may find it helpful to revisit your dictionary.

        1. Leslie Singleton
          July 27, 2016

          Dear Alte–“Late 17th century (as an adverb in the sense ‘elsewhere’): from Latin, ‘elsewhere’. The noun use dates from the late 18th century.” was first stop on Internet. I suppose there will be a modern dictionary saying different these days if you look hard enough.

  23. fedupsoutherner
    July 26, 2016

    Half of the consultants or so called experts often know nothing very much about the field in which they are giving advice. The energy policy is a prime example of people with vested interest giving advice over things they have no knowledge of or have a biased view. The real experts are not listened to and instead the ‘Green Loons’ and FOE or WWWF get their voices heard together with their followers or disciples.

    This leads to gross incompetence in government decisions and an utter waste of public money resulting in projects that are complete failures. These so called experts and consultants make sure projects being discussed go on for a lengthy period so the bill racks up.

    In the case of Brexit you don’t need consultants. You already have the expertise in government without paying out shed loads of money for poor advice. Is it a case of taking the easy option?

  24. Euleaver
    July 26, 2016

    You ask why consultants are working on a Norway option. I think we all know why. This is the government ‘s preferred option. It allows them to say we implemented the voters wishes to leave the EU as instructed by the referendum result, while maintaining full access to the single market for the benefit of large businesses. It also makes it easier to sell to the Northern Irish and Scotland and to avoid the breakup of the United Kingdom.
    This would be a political fudge meant to satisfy a majority of the electorate , those who voted remain or leave before the next general election. In truth it would satisfy no-one and would in fact be the worst possible result of the decision to leave the EU.

    1. Denis Cooper
      July 26, 2016

      I could live for a time with a British option under which:

      1. We left the EU, so the UK would no longer be a party to the EU treaties.

      2. We stayed in the EEA, but with amendments so that

      a) We had complete control over immigration from other EEA states;

      b) We were sure that we could make trade deals around the world while still having access to the EU’s Single Market;

      c) We did not pay the EU for the privilege of running a trade deficit;

      d) Our Parliament once again had the right to reject EU measures.

  25. oldtimer
    July 26, 2016

    If there are consultants “busy working up the Norway option” as you have heard then that is because someone has instructed them to do so. It could, of course, be just an option to be set against other options. Something, presumably, the government must want to consider though quite how acceptance of freedom of movement squares with “Brexit means Brexit” is difficult to imagine. I read, on the other hand, that Nicola Sturgeon is worried about what she called a “hard exit”. It is extremely disappointing that, apparently, no consideration or attention has been given to the knowledge and opinions of yourself and other of your colleagues who have studied critically the treaties and Directives that presently rule our lives and from which we must escape if Brexit is indeed to mean Brexit. Mrs May said she intends to consult widely; I would have thought that should include yourself.

    1. Denis Cooper
      July 26, 2016

      It’s a pity that nobody in the UK authorities is prepared to point out to her that she has no business at all interfering in any of this, or using public resources for trips to EU capitals or anything of that kind, and potentially she could up in court charged with misconduct in public office. Her office being similar to that of the leader of an English county council, in legal if not political reality. In September 2014 the Scots were given the opportunity to promote her public office to that of First Minister of a sovereign Scottish state but decided not to do so, and yet she is allowed to carry on as if her side won and Scotland is already an independent country. I’m beginning to wonder whether to crowdfund a legal action to stop her doing this, given that the UK authorities are too pusillanimous to act.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        July 26, 2016

        Denis. Please do raise funds. We would contribute!!

      2. Know-dice
        July 27, 2016

        Go for it DC 🙂

  26. Bob
    July 26, 2016

    I hv to wonder how serious Theresa May is about Brexit when she has weighted her cabinet so heavily with Remains, while Brexit MPs are left to observe from the sidelines.

    Project Fear continues apace with threats of Brexit induced negative interest rates.

    1. Lindsay McDougall
      July 27, 2016

      There is no need at all for negative interest rates, let alone citing Brexit as a cause. Even reducing base rate from 0.5% to 0.25% would be a false step. Very low interest rates suit the Chancellor because he has pay less on his huge borrowings; the fact that in some instances he may thereby be cheating his creditors seems to be OK – at least it was for George Osborne.

      Theresa May says that she wants to give a helping hand to those who are just about managing, at the expense of the super rich. Nothing will help this more than a steady rise in interest rates. At the moment it is very easy to make more money if you already have money. We need a tougher business environment where the good ideas lead to prosperity and the bad ideas don’t.

      During the EU referendum campaign, George Osborne suggested that Brexit would mean a 17% fall in house prices. My reaction was ‘Bring it on”. Sadly, it turned out not to be true.

  27. The Prangwizard
    July 26, 2016

    …and soon

    Indeed so, I get a feeling of drift. It is hopefully just the unpreparedness effect but there needs to be fear that when ‘consultants’ and other advisors get their grubby mits on things there will be delay and diversion, especially if they are briefed by anyone sympathetic to the defeated ‘remain’ side of the argument; they will quickly pick up on any hints and be easily subverted from the main task.

    It is universally true that consultants’ main purpose is to expand a simple task into a complicated one in order to maximise their fees and puff up their own egos. They know also that once they are started on a job cancellation will include loss of face for the client. I have never known any consultant who after being called in said that his advice was barely or not necessary. And I worked in a large public company bureaucracy. We were accountable to shareholders but they never got to know how much waste there was.

    How this is to be guarded against in the enormous, virtually out of control bureaucracy, that is government I do not know.

    I trust that parliament will be vigilant and robust because we all know on this side of the argument that if will of the people is not implemented there ought to be trouble. And I mean real trouble.

    1. sjb
      July 27, 2016

      MPs have a duty to act in the nation’s interest. In the months to come, I hope uppermost in each MP’s mind will be the words of Edmund Burke: “he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices [his judgment] to your opinion.’

  28. Anthony Makara
    July 26, 2016

    Sadly career politicians emerge from a culture in which everything from speechwriting to personal appearance and strategy is delegated to paid Consultants. Can a Consultant be neutral? Of course not, especially when he is subject to groupthink or relies on trends to form opinions that will be popular. These people by their very nature flee from any sort of altercation and are not the people to suggest taking tough and often unpopular decisions. So many Consultants come from the Oxbridge circuit, having no experience of real life and heavy laden with all the guilt baggage of political correctness. Consultants can only muddy the waters and take us away from our objective, leaving the EU.

  29. Henry Kaye
    July 26, 2016

    Like a majority of people today I am very concerned with Brexit. I read your daily posting Mr Redwood and the comments from so many others. I also read other blogs including EU Referendum where Dr Richard North complains bitterly that very few of those talking about the process know what they are talking about. I am certainly one of those who has no idea of what is technically and legally involved but it does seem to me that Dr North reserves that role for himself. I know only one thing and that is that we had a referendum and the result should be honoured. Some commenting on this blog seem to think that concern with immigration was the only motivating force. Others, including myself, were far more concerned with a recovery of our sovereignty which would include amongst other things: border controls, the return of our fishing grounds, withdrawal from the ECHR, the reversal of many of the enforced laws enacted since our membership of the EU and a sincere and concerted effort to re-establish and reinforce our national culture and identity by an abandonment of Political Correctness, Multiculturalism and Diversity. I recognise that there are many in the land who think differently about all or some of these matters but we should be able to elect a government that reflects policies that agree or disagree with such matters. Theresa May has declared that Brexit means Brexit and I read that to mean that she intends to honour our vote to quit the EU (although when and how remains to be seen) but emphasises that it does NOT mean that our other concerns will be addressed. Like so many of your readers here and elsewhere my respect for so many of our parliamentarians could not be lower.

  30. graham1946
    July 26, 2016

    It all depends on what consultants you use and what for. If you consult an accountant about your tax affairs or a specialist for a medical condition that’s one thing. Professional consultants for nebulous things are something else and how you sort the wheat from the chaff I don’t know – you probably need a consultant to help.

    In my early life I worked for 2 largish companies who were advised by somebody or other from their banks to employ management consultants to ‘increase productivity and profits’. They spent months in the premises interviewing people (not the ones actually doing the job, but mostly remote managers) and caused all sorts of havoc with their recommendations which took another age to implement. Both those firms went bust within a couple of years. (I had left by then, so I like to kid myself that had something to do with it).

    Management Consultants have an axe to grind. They cannot say everything is hunky dory or they cannot justify their stratospheric fees. They make recommendations which the current management probably don’t even understand, let alone implement successfully. Far better to get a CEO who knows what he is doing, but not the usual merry-go-round we usually see among the big companies where they go from one to another, mucking them up and then on to the next. Directors cannot tell their shareholders that they have wasted millions on such people or consultants and so, they big them up, so it all goes on and on, with management at a very poor though very highly priced level. Look at almost any huge company, from energy to communications etc and you will find complaints from their customers at yearly higher and higher levels. They mostly make money by ripping off their customers, not by being clever.

    Why do you need consultants for Brexit? It is the simplest thing. We need Brexit, access to the single market, no fees, no freedom of movement. If the EU don’t agree, walk away. There, that’s my consultation. Where do I send my fees note?

  31. Adam
    July 26, 2016

    Why are traders golden. They wanna manufacture something in China and ship it half way around the world and are demanding that they shouldn’t have to pay a tax for that. That doesn’t make sense in modern life. Everything is taxed.

  32. Atlas
    July 26, 2016

    Agreed John.

  33. Karen
    July 26, 2016

    Why delay trigger article 50 now out within a year we will have trade only
    If this is not possible walk away no deals with EU
    Start work on other trade deals around the world first and put EU at the back of the list

  34. Roger parkin
    July 26, 2016

    I regularly refuse approaches from consultants wishing to improve my successful business.
    I take the view that if they knew more than me they would be running their own enterprises and making a lot more money for themselves.

  35. Tad Davison
    July 26, 2016

    ‘The consultants often wish to develop very expensive traffic models, then design schemes that can defy common sense.’

    You must have Cambridge in mind John. The Lib-dem and Labour policy-makers determined that cycling is the new priority. They then employ ‘specialists’ to produce a ‘plan’ that gears everything to that end, in which the use of private cars is actively discouraged. The fact that people like to use cars to get to work or do the shopping, which keeps local businesses in a viable state, seems to pass them by. And I have yet to see a bike that can carry as many shopping bags as a car.

    Their alternative, to urge people to use public transport, has fallen pretty flat. Buses are chronically and grossly under-used, yet receive a large subsidy. They have dedicated bus lanes allotted to them to get the few people who use them into the city centre as rapidly as possible, whilst forcing car users into bottlenecks and strangle points. Yet we can’t vote these Labour and Lib Dem people out whilst transient students who subscribe to this madness are permitted to out-vote the settled community. Cambridge is presently a red blot in a sea of blue or purple on the political map.

    We need change in the voting system to stop this travesty.

    On the matter of the re-negotiation, I can’t help but think that is precisely what the government wants – to cause procrastination and disagreement. Brexit might mean Brexit in Mrs. May’s mind, but she doesn’t seem to want to give us any assurances as to when it might happen. They have the mandate. With fewer people to disagree with the process, that could begin a whole lot sooner.

    Tad Davison


  36. Newmania
    July 26, 2016

    You see this is where I feel you don`t understand the disaster headed our way . The reason for this is that your life is spent orating, kissing babies and waving in a queenly way at a passing bucolic flotillas but most people spend some time talking about work .
    If you did this you would soon discover the extent of the chaos that Brexit is going to create . Of course you would the first to tell us how deep and all-encompassing the EU is but every time I speak to someone about what they do they claps their head and describe a calamity I hadn`t even thought of and that “ They have no idea ….“
    The sheer cost of chaos is not my chief objection to this insane idea , it is the effect of losing ground in just about every expanding area of the economy and the knock on disaster for services .
    Nonetheless people who have spent decades resolving the issues associated with joining the EU and especially the single market are now going to have to spend decades undoing it
    None of this will concern the coalition of retired and X Factor watching fast food munching Brexiteers because they don`t have to get things to work . What was this all for again…oh that’s right because they don`t like the Poles . Just staggering that the Conservative Party should decide their childish hobby horse was so important that had to prevent vast number s of their own supporters getting on with lives that were hard enough already .

    You were under the illusion this was going to cheap ?
    I must introduce you to the real world

    Reply As you so clearly dislike me and ignore most of what I write, why do you bother to come on day after day with ill informed and negative invective? If you tried reading what I wrote – and tried reading the published stats and business results – you could help us build bridges between Remain and Leave voters and ensure a better future for all of us, which is what we think we will achieve from leaving.

    1. graham1946
      July 26, 2016


      Ever see the Steptoe & Son episode where they split the house in two including the TV? When it came to which channel to watch, young Harold went into a long spiel about the ethical and legal position with the final ‘I have the law of contract on my side’, to which old Albert simply said ‘I have the knobs on my side’. End of argument. the Leavers have the knobs, ie they won the vote. Now, why don’t you accept that and help make it a success, instead of trying to pull the country down with doom and gloom and trying to bring about the recession which you Remainers are so clearly desperate to achieve, so you can say ‘I was right’. What a small mind you seem to have.

    2. Oggy
      July 26, 2016

      I VOTED LEAVE and I am very glad I did.
      I don’t watch X factor or munch fast food. I also have a great deal of respect for the Poles whose pilots helped us win the Battle of Britain in 1940 – thank you Poland !
      NO it’s the EU and it’s gravy train bureaucrats I don’t like.
      But the vitreolic nonsense that you are spouting is just total BS – Get a life !

      1. JohnF
        July 26, 2016

        I also have a great deal of respect for the Poles whose pilots helped us win the Battle of Britain in 1940 – thank you Poland !

        I don’t want to appear mean spirited but it’s worth remembering that it was Poland that was under Nazi occupation at the time – not Britain. While we should acknowledge their contribution it wasn’t necessarily a selfless action on their part.

    3. Anonymous
      July 26, 2016

      Dr Redwood.

      Leave Newmania to it. The more he says the more I’m convinced that I was right to vote the way I did.

      I thank him for his candidness which gets to the nub of why people voted to Leave the EU but that’s about all I’ll thank him for. It wasn’t so much problems with the EU but the contempt that his class has for mine that has caused this situation.

      (In any other society of worth the elders are respected, btw.)

    4. DaveM
      July 26, 2016

      “I must introduce you to the real world”

      Ha ha ha. Is that the one where all the people from around the world dance in circles singing about daisies and fairies?

      I disagree with Mr R – I hope you keep posting your ludicrous nonsense because it makes me laugh. And I need a laugh, working 12 hours a day 6 days a week so my hard-earned taxes can be used to top up child benefit in Poland and bail out basket economies in southern Europe whilst financing the extravagant lifestyles of EUcrats. But then I obviously don’t live in the real world. Strange that you should be so enamoured of the EUSSR when your hero Corbyn so clearly dislikes it.

      The only real criticism I have of your comic contributions is that your grammar, syntax, punctuation, and frequently your spelling, is so abysmal. You are clearly in the camp that hates our country, but there is no need to murder our language.

    5. Margaret
      July 26, 2016

      We now realise why you chose such a username. I see you also use new- speak.
      I spent years and years building Britain as did many others only to see it be broken to pieces by EU supporters and it hurts.

  37. Roy Grainger
    July 26, 2016

    Why are they looking at the Norway option ? Because that’s what Mrs May wants.

    1. alan jutson
      July 26, 2016


      Amazing that in the run up to the referendum, all of the Remainers were using Norway as an example of abject failure and laughing at their status because they had the worst of both worlds.

      Now they seem to want to promote it.!

      Strange world politics, and they wonder why we do not believe a word many of them say.

  38. ferdinand
    July 26, 2016

    The worrying point is that you have seen this in Government before. Have your views been put the to the Brexit negotiators ?

    July 26, 2016

    I have heard tell of former local Councillors retiring from Council business, joining Consultancies which before and after have dealings with the same Local Authorities. Some MPs too do much consultancy; and, Lords and Ladies, Barons and Baronets. Everyone it seems needs good advice.
    A pity that elected officials, and sometimes frequenters of the House of Lords,also persons in the business community do not have enough savvy or wit to do their jobs properly.

  40. ian
    July 26, 2016

    Nobody else has manage to get anywhere with them, unless there is something they want from you, pettiness of the european people is second to none as you can see with dover, negotiation with them is a waste of time and all you get out of experts is, that it all a grey area.

    You are either coming out or not, as always it better to talk if they want to once you are out because it all new and a fresh start and you are not wasting time going over same old things for years on end.

    These talks will have little to do with trade part from banking and insurance and treaties the government went into with EU should have been debated in parliament at length and proper control and clause put in place at the time instead of being rubber stamped by the civil service without no out clauses put into the documents this side, it all boils down to very bad management by are government because they never have had any intentions of coming out of the EU.

    EU laws are learnt and debated every year in uni by lectures and professors, i can only think that what these people have been told is a load of rubbish because if they have of known what they were talking about it should be a cake walk to get out of these treaties.

    I think john you leave this eu debate till something concrete comes along to talk about.

  41. Brian Lloyd
    July 26, 2016

    I have limited knowledge of trade with EU and the WTO Rules, but I am well versed in commercial negotiations, and what that knowledge tells me is that we must not go into negotiations with the EU as a supplicant – as most of the media and many, who should know better, paint us (UK). I believe we should enter negotiations with a statement that we are prepared to trade under WTO Rules* and that unless the EU comes to us with proposals on how they want those rules changed, that is the route the UK will take. That makes the EU the supplicant, and we can use their requirements to trade off on our own requirements, thus agree a trade deal. *No ‘free movement’, no ‘additional payment’.

  42. A different Simon
    July 26, 2016

    The external consultants are obvious but many third party influencer’s have wormed their way in and are now essentially in-house consultants .

    I’m talking Quango’s , certain branches of academia , Civil Society Organisation’s (formerly known as NGO’s) and the rest of the “third sector” .

    At best these Quango and third sector jobs are mainly sinecures for the boys and girls from the right sort of families .

    At worse , they are outright sinister .

    HM Govt as a signatory to the U.N. convention is legally obliged to consult Civil Society Organisation’s (the new official term for NGO’s) which have acquired
    CONSULTATIVE STATUS from the U.N. when making legislation in their area .

    The objective is to funnel public money to fund the undeserving and left wing activists and subvert democracy .

    These third sector organisation’s are themselves the target for another modern evil – lobbyists and organisations including ……………. .

    For the sake of democracy , the whole beltway mafia needs sweeping away .

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    July 26, 2016

    The public sector might get better value from transport and highway consultants if (a) it used them properly and (b) didn’t think that the role of transport and highway consultants was to rubber stamp at great expense decisions that the public sector had already made.

    Decisions that were definitely made by the public sector were to build HS1, the channel tunnel rail link and now to build HS2. I am a member of the Transport Economists group, which holds meetings on topics of interest and publishes quarterly procedings. The proceedings of Spring 2016 include a summary of a presentation entitled ‘Economic Evaluation oh High Speed 1 ?’ by Andrew Meaney of Arup. This is obviously being wise after the event but the figures are interesting (readers may recall that HS1 replaced a rail link to Waterloo International Station terminal):

    Calculation of Present Value of Benefits (£million)
    User benefits 4,955
    Provider impacts to Eurostar and Southeastern 2,050
    Crowding, reliability and punctuality 475
    Noise and local air quality 10
    Greenhouse gases 35
    Wider public financs minus 825
    Wider economic impacts 1,330
    Present value of benefits (total of the above) 8,030

    [Note: the National Audit Office’s 2012 estimate of the PVB was £7000 million]

    Capital grants, guarantees, restructuring and other support and future debt liability 9,915
    Net concession proceeds minus 1,700
    DfT support subsidy/lost revenue (depends heavily on the assumed demand cap) 4,380
    Present value of costs (total of the above) 12,595

    Value for money calculations
    Present value of benefits 8,030
    Net present value minus 4,565
    Benefit to cost ratio 0.64

    In other words, the benefits of HS1 were less than its cost. It as a lemon.

    I can remember the bidding process for design and construction of HS1. There were two consortia, one containing GIBB (now part of Jacobs Engineering the last time that I looked), the other containing Virgin and Arup. The latter won and cost was a major consideration in the selection decision. Guess what: the out-turn cost was almost exactly what the losing GIBB consortium had estimated.

    It is – or was – different for highway schemes. The Highways Agency had observed that out-turn costs were almost always higher than engineers’ estimates. Their remedy was to apply a factor of 1.54 to engineers’ estimates to correct for ‘optimism bias’. Some 30 years earlier, my estimate for the construction cost of some infrasturcture was multiplied by 1.5 by the Principal Engineer in charge. “That’s the embuggerment factor, Lindsay. It always costs more than you think.” Plus ca change ……………..

    Given the above figures, has an ’embuggerment factor’ been applied to the HS2 cost estimate. I suspect not. Should it be? I think so.

    Turning now to traffic models, I have often at the end of a project handed over a well crafted model to a local authority, only to see the local authority fail to update it regularly. I have also seen a traffic model created by a local authority that contained a 5 hour delay at the exit to one development site; I had the job of auditing this model and the authority was upset when I made a critical comment.

    Some nearly forgotton biblical text about motes and beams comes to mind.

    And another thing, when you want something done quickly, use a consultant. They can handle stress.

  44. Fairweather
    July 26, 2016

    Please send your excellent post to Mrs May
    I was horrified to watch the debate on the Lisbon Treaty in the Hof C .
    I watched nearly all of it over the 12 days
    Only a handful of MPs were in the chamber for the debate and then at the division 600 or so rushed in to vote on something they knew nothing about! ( and perhaps didn’t care about either)
    Is this democracy?

    1. alan jutson
      July 26, 2016


      I have suggested before that only those who attend the chamber too listen to a debate are allowed to vote.

      Yes it would be difficult for some Busy Ministers but then the present system as you have correctly outlined, is simply a farce.

    2. 12345
      July 26, 2016

      To Fairweather
      I agree but I bet she and a lot more are reading it anyway. (It being the only Real Opposition )

  45. Margaret
    July 26, 2016

    They then employ workers to do all the dog work and wonder why the workers are more knowledgeable and perform better than the so called consultant. I was speaking to a lawyer who was saying that to do all the research required would take far too long though, and this would impact on the outcome of cases . Time out can generate much injustice.
    I try to weigh up the fairness of all these type of situations where the consultant cannot work as quickly , is not as up to date as he should be , has experience where more recently scenarios have changed, against those who do not have the professional background , but appear to out perform the consultant. The finer details can be missed by those workers without the enquiring minds, yet things today are not as thoroughly executed as in the past.

    There is also a problem with being swayed that cheaper is better, just because this is so , yet workers cannot work effectively without an IQ which fits the bill. Many academics are just sloggers who absorb , but others are quick minded and creative. How do firms differentiate between those who are good for a company and those who dully continue with the same?

    The tensions here seem to indicate that knowing a group or persons rather than a position in the hierarchy or professional name is preferable.

  46. APL
    July 26, 2016

    Some months ago, I asked you, Mr Redwood, what assurances you could give that the refugees being allowed into Europe would pose no threat to the peaceful population.

    It was another question you ignored.

    Now we have the most recent atrocity in France, the decapitation of a Priest in his own church. What measures have your government put in place to protect law abiding population from these barbarians?

  47. forthurst
    July 26, 2016

    Dr Fox thinks we should leave the EU customs union; according to the FT, “Quitting the customs union would not preclude Britain remaining in the European single market.”

    Am I mistaken or is the EU a customs union with bells and whistles, so how can one leave the customs union and remain in the Single Market? If that were possible why would not other EU countries also want to do likewise.

  48. ian
    July 26, 2016

    I will say it a again and will keep saying it, these old parties have got to go.

    I have ready fell out with new PM and all the new crap laws she want to bring in against 80 percent of the people in this country and what will turn out be a cock up on the EU, the quick she is gone the better and her party to.

    Your just wasting your time with these people with media spinning stories of what a good job they are doing for you, all rubbish, you have chance now for independence for your country and parliament and if i was you i would grab it with both hands as new parties and independent PMs come forward.

    If you listen to the media you will not get anywhere, that the is the tool of the old parties and the establishment to confess you.

    I am sure there will a new brexit party soon and more people coming forward to stand as new MPs without parties, the fall the old guard must happen or all hope will be lost.

    There is stopping independent MPs from having a loose alignment with new brexit party.

  49. Mark
    July 26, 2016

    The most important qualification for anyone involved in Brexit is to have the project to secure proper independence from the EU institutions firmly in their hearts. If their purpose is united, the team can work together effectively, pooling skills. Paying those who would instead rather remain in the EU is a waste of money, however great their expertise. Such people should only be treated as witnesses to be interviewed.

  50. Des
    July 26, 2016


    Classically trained as you are, you will know the name “consultant” comes from the words – “to con” and “insult”…

    1. APF
      July 27, 2016

      Des: “comes from the words – “to con” and “insult”…”

      Or one of my favourite Dilbert cartoons.

  51. Iain Gill
    July 28, 2016

    Good post this one John, you should expand on this.

    I know for sure some of the road design consultancies have designed new accident blackspot one after another, leaving a trail of death and destruction, and they continue to do it year after year. Yet they are never in court for causing deaths are they? Far to easy to blame the drivers.

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