When you get one leak, suddenly another turns up. Dr Roy Spendlove has apparently written back to Dame Lucy to tell her why he has moved departments.
I thought I should let you know privately my reasons for putting in for a transfer to the Brexit department. I can assure you I was not unhappy working for you and will be sad to go. I felt, however, that it was important the new Department should have some people like me well versed in the ways of the EU. They need to understand the immense complexities of the relationship, and appreciate the difficulty of severing these important links.
It was not as easy as I expected securing the transfer. There was a surprising amount of interest in the jobs. I guess it was the thought of working closely with Ministers in a new venture, based in Downing Street itself. Fortunately I can speak a bit of Brexit, which I needed to do to secure my place. I studied what these Ministers had been saying on the Leave campaign, as I do need to know where they are coming from if I am to give them hard hitting advice that is grown up and realistic.
I am pleased to report that it has been decided that we will need a substantial staff to deal with all the aspects of the relationship, though I think current numbers will prove inadequate and we will need to revert on that when it becomes clearer just how much is at stake here. I am also pleased to report on this occasion that we will be using external consultants, as they may assist us in mapping all of the difficulties. They also include a large number of Remain voters who understood in advance the magnitude of the task.
I will not be allowed to offer a running commentary on the negotiations. There are quite strict rules about all that. However, as the negotiations get underway there will be plenty of people in business, in the European Parliament and in the Commission who will want to put out their view of it all, which may in due course force some kind of reply from ourselves. In the meantime the danger for the government is a continuous and one sided briefing about where we are, coming from those on the continent who want to make it painful for the UK. We have warned them this could be the result of their policy.
We are proposing that the government shows flexibility on migration, on budget contributions and the supremacy of UK laws in order to secure continuing membership of the single market. I can’t believe they think we can simply turn our backs on the whole thing. There will be powerful voices for compromise, and many pieces of advice stressing the weakness of the UK position.
The Department has accepted the need to talk widely to people in business, the academic world and the arts about what they fear and what they need from the discussions. I am quietly confident that we will get across the need to have very wide ranging negotiations where all aspects of our relationship with the EU are on the table, and where therefore there has to be very thorough examination of all the downsides before committing ourselves to an irreversible course.I am sure the rest if tge EU is watching listeningvery carefully as business and UK commentators point out all the problems and troubles with our exposed position, which will push us to Brexit lite. As the Canadian trade deal showed, these apparently straightforward things can take seven years, and may still have an unexpected hiccup in the end. Rome was not built in a day, and the Treaty of Rome cannot be repealed in a day, whatever some in Parliament may wish.