The role of the civil service in Brexit

Last Wednesday night I spoke to the Bruges Group about Brexit at their request. There was widespread concern about the role of the civil service in the Brexit negotiations.

Our constitutional theory is clear. Ministers decide, civil servants advise. Civil servants can warn and restrain Ministers to make sure Ministers obey the law and operate within their powers, but they are not there to write Manifestos or to decide the direction of travel. Many individual civil servants may have voted Remain, but they must all be Brexiteers now in their professional lives, as they are working for a people who have decided to leave and a government which is seeking to do so. Ministers are meant to lead, identifying the issues government needs to address and recommending solutions and decisions which they think will improve things as people and Parliament wish. Ministers are entirely responsible for keeping Parliament onside and getting the necessary Parliamentary consents, and should conduct the public dialogue about government policy and performance.

It does appear that the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heyward, and the Chief Official negotiator Mr Robbins have considerable influence. I happen to disagree with the advice that the UK needs to keep on offering concessions, and needs a long additional Transition period following on from the 2 years 9 months wait to get out which should be the transition period. Many Eurosceptic MPs offer different advice. We advise against a Transition period, especially before we know what we might be in transit to. We advise against offering money and other concessions, as the UK is a very generous partner even without such offers. A free trade Agreement is clearly good news for the rest of the EU and will happen unless they wish to self harm. If they wish to do that no amount of concession might change their mind.

The fact is the Prime Minister is in charge. She decides which advice she likes best, and she decides who her advisers will be. She has chosen Mr Robbins to lead many of the talks with the EU, and we must assume he keeps her fully informed. Those of us who wish to see the UK now withdraw some of its very generous offer if the EU does not start to offer us a worthwhile future deal need to ensure the Prime Minister herself is aware of this view. She probably did learn on her recent whistle stop tour of the UK that many people do now just want to get on with it. Many of us do not share Whitehall’s worries about what might go wrong if we do not end up replicating the EU in all but name.

It is true that the Treasury officials produced some very poor work ahead of the Referendum, where they were clearly under political instruction to do so by the Chancellor. They would be well advised to redeem themselves by producing some more realistically optimistic work now they are under a government which says it is pro Brexit. The whole civil service needs to ensure all is ready to leave on March 29 2019, and should help Ministers speed up the necessary work on new fishing, farming, borders and spending policies for the UK. This surely is a very exciting prospect for those interested in the work of government. After years of having to conform, from March 2019 – unless we sign it away again – we will be free to do as we wish. We do not need any more mapping of Project Fear. We need some practical answers to a series of detailed matters, all of which can be resolved. Ministers should enthusiastically lead their officials in getting on with this task. Ministers should send back for changes any document which just repeats the endless false rumours of the Project Fear campaign which we have heard all too often and are one by one being proved wrong.


  1. Fedupsoutherner
    April 2, 2018

    Only problem is, none of them have any backbone or any faith in their own country and the people who really make the country tick – us!! The way they are behaving will be detrimental to the UK and the EU know they are a walkover. Civil servants are now used to following orders from Brussels so to listen to any minister will be completely foreign to them. They need to be told to start thinking on their feet and do something positive for their country. We don’t need people who are not on side!

    1. Hope
      April 3, 2018

      May has taken no action therefore civil service fake report from the Treasury and KitKat policy to hide vast sums of taxpayers’ cash to funnel to the EU without public knowledge must be with her knowledge and consent. The same with deliberate leaks to continue project fear. She never rebuked Hammond or sacked him forbTreasury report and numerous statements against govt policy but did Johnson when speaking to promote govt policy!

      May is PM and could sack or change direction of pro EU civil servants any time she wished. Either she is incompetent, lacks leadership or is totally content with the head of civil service and complete surrender from negotiator to embarrass the country as a vassal state.

  2. eeyore
    April 2, 2018

    “The civil service needs to ensure all is ready in March 29.” I wonder what will happen if we are not ready.

    How about this? The government is widely blamed for a fiasco. Politicians, as always, carry the can. All good sense is drowned by cries of “Told you so!” from delighted and triumphant Remainers, especially the senior civil servants whose deliberate failure has made the mess.

    Time for stick and carrot. In the coming year the public should be left in no doubt whose job it is to prepare for Brexit, what instructions have been given, and whose heads are on the block. But honours and bonuses all round for a job well done.

    1. jerry
      April 2, 2018

      @eeyore; Except the public were told, before and after the referenda, that senior Brexiteers ‘had a plan’ for Brexit, all that needed to be done was to be brought (back) into govt., but know it appears that there was no plan -other than to blame the Civil Service if things went wrong…

      Reply Brexiteers presented a full plan shortly after the vote

      1. Lerto
        April 2, 2018

        Yes, a “full plan” to demand unicorns and fairies, and blame the civil service and the EU if they didnt appear. Anyone seen that money for the NHS?

        1. libertarian
          April 3, 2018


          Any credibility you may have had went with the absolutely stupid statement anyone seen the money for the NHS….. WE HAVENT LEFT YET…how dim are you people ?

        2. NickC
          April 3, 2018

          Lerto, I have no idea what your “unicorns and fairies” consist of. But leaving the EU means we join the other 164 nations in the world that are not in the EU and not signed up to the EEA agreement. That’s not a terribly difficult concept to grasp, even for a bright, educated Remain like yourself.

      2. jerry
        April 2, 2018

        @JR reply; Well it doesn’t appear to be working, thus we have Plan B, blame the Civil Service.

        If the PM is not giving support to her senior Ministers responsible for achieving a ‘good Brexit’ why has there not been a single resignations to force the issue, could it be this “plan” was simple wrong in its assertions/assumptions?

        1. NickC
          April 3, 2018

          Jerry, Since we Leaves are not getting the complete Leave we were promised even by the Remains, then who is to blame?

          Personally I tend to think that those who are agitating to keep us at least partly in the EU, are the ones to blame if we end up partly in the EU.

          1. jerry
            April 4, 2018

            @NickC; “who is to blame?”

            Those who promised the world, quite literally, knowing they could never deliver perhaps?

  3. MIke Stallard
    April 2, 2018

    “The whole civil service needs to ensure all is ready to leave on March 29 2019, and should help Ministers speed up the necessary work on new fishing, farming, borders and spending policies for the UK. This surely is a very exciting prospect for those interested in the work of government.”

    Mr Redwood, it is staring you in the face.
    We leave the EU in under a year’s time. No question. Out. And we leave the “Single Market” too. The customs union has been much discussed but is a footnote. Lots of flag waving and lots of bun fights, no doubt next year on 1st April.

    It is not that the EU is being unco-operative. It is organised in a certain way and, like the proverbial crocodile, it cannot help being what it is: a slowly congealing mass of 27 very different states with different ideals, different histories and very different populations. It just cannot concede. It works on its own rules.

    What then?

    If we are smart, we can remain in the Common Market (EEA), we can leave the CFP, the CAP and the ECJ. We can negotiate on immigration very easily with four regular committees. And we can openly discuss new Directives and also how much/little we pay. Trade will continue as it is now, and the pound will stay on track.

    The only way to remain in the Common Market (EEA) and leave the EU is, as you know, to join Efta. If we do, we get many of the privileges which you want and we will be outside the EU. It is a good half way house while we decide where to go after that.

    For some reason which I simply do not understand, people who ought to know this don’t.

    1. Jagman84
      April 2, 2018

      That is still called “Not leaving the EU”, however you re-phrase it, yet again! Still subject to ECJ, free movement, etc….

    2. getahead
      April 2, 2018

      Don’t think so Mike. I want our nation to be completely free again. No half-way houses. We want to be able to trade with the Commonwealth countries and the rest of the world. Our trade with the EU is in decline. Outside the EU we can have a free trade agreement with the EU but no acronyms required and certainly no EU payments.

      1. jerry
        April 2, 2018

        @getahead; “I want our nation to be completely free again. No half-way houses”

        I take it that after Brexit you will want the UK to leave the UN too then!

        “We want to be able to trade with the Commonwealth countries and the rest of the world.”

        I had some lovely New Zeeland Lamb for my lunch today, oh and this morning I bought some new household electrical products made in China, later this week I expect some new hand tools made in the USA to arrive – apparently I must have been dreaming as the UK can;t trade with the Commonwealth nor the RotW whilst we are in the EU…

        “Outside the EU we can have a free trade agreement with the EU but no acronyms required and certainly no EU payments.”

        We can indeed, assuming that the EU27 agree!

    3. Mark B
      April 2, 2018

      We cannot leave the CAP while in the EEA. But we will leave the CFP and the ECJ. Although the ECJ will be replaced with a parallel court.

      1. mancunius
        April 2, 2018

        Not so: the ‘parallel court’ (the Efta Court) accepts the primacy of EU law over national law and applies ECJ judgments to Efta/EEA members. (See my reply to Mike Stallard below at 4.35pm).
        The CAP is not part of the EEA Treaty. Nor is the Customs Union.
        On the other hand, EEA countries are members of Schengen and are fully signed up to freedom of movement. So we could not decide our own immigration policies under EEA rules.
        It is simply an expensive way of belonging to the EU with no effect at all over its legislation.

  4. Lifelogic.
    April 2, 2018

    Indeed all excellent points that I suspect will all be ignored. The civil service in the referendum behaved appallingly using public money to lie to the public and try to frighten them into a remain vote. This particularly in the treasury, the home office under May, Number 10 under the (Eurosceptic and low tax ar heart, Cast Iron liar) and at the Bank of England under Carney. The blatant lies made in the taxpayer funded leaflet were appalling and the public funded BBC bias was massive and still is.

    “The fact is the Prime Minister is in charge.” Well this hardly fills me with much confidence. When asked what are the positives of leaving “it is going to be different” is the best she can do. She shamelessly lied in the referendum that we had control of our borders while in the EU through being out of Schengen hardly fills me with confidence. She clearly could not have really thought this.

    The failure of Cameron and the civil service to prepare for a brexit vote and deliver the letter the next day as promised was a gross neglect of duty. What competent MD or Captain of a ship would fail to prepare for two roughly equally likely outcomes?

    Still some good news at last the head of the DPP is to go. Can we have someone who believes in proper full disclosure to the defence and fair, beyond reasonable doubt, trials please? The UK legal system both civil and criminal leave very much to be desired. It seems to benefit few but the lawyers.

  5. oldtimer
    April 2, 2018

    Despite her words “No deal is better than a bad deal”, I do not believe that Mrs May would invoke them. It seems to me that we are staring at a bad deal. She, together with the convinced Remainers in the Cabinet, her top civil service advisors, the CBI and others are seeking to frustrate Brexit any way they can. The main purpose of the transition is to give more time to try to sway public opinion against Brexit. The BBC beats this propaganda drum every day. A change at the top may be needed to ensure Brexit happens as people voted for in the referendum. As matters stand voters face a staggeringly large exit bill, and the taxes to pay it, to placate big business interests.

  6. Nig l
    April 2, 2018

    So your expert Mr Robbins advises you on something, what are you going to do, disagree, of course not so the question is. Who is riding shotgun on Robbins to ensure his advice is unbiased rather than from where his and the Civil Service’s true sympathies lie, the EU?

    1. Mark B
      April 2, 2018

      That is a very good point.

      One would normally look to the Legislature and Committees to do the necessary scrutiny but, for that one needs to have experts. There are very few true experts on the EU.

      1. jerry
        April 2, 2018

        @Mark B; “There are very few true experts on the EU.”

        Nonsense, there are many, the problem being that very few appear to agree with the those seeking Brexit – heck Brexiteers have even rejected ‘advice’ given on the ‘process’ by the very person who wrote the first draft of the said Article 50.

        1. NickC
          April 3, 2018

          Jerry, The Vienna Convention states:

          Vienna Art 54 “The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place:
          (a) In conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or
          (b) At any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.”

          Option (a) is not mandated.

          1. jerry
            April 4, 2018

            @NickC; Your point being what, exactly?

  7. Lifelogic.
    April 2, 2018

    Meanwhile the London murder rate overtakes New York for the first time. Cressida Dick dick blames it on social media. Does she think they do not have social media in New York? She should ask what the authorities in New York are doing right and what the police and criminal justice system in London and the UK are doing wrong or failing to do.

    In my experience the police in London do almost nothing about most crime if they possible can until someone is left dead seriously wounded. Particularly if they can claim the person concerned has mental health issues. Deterrents to crime seem hardly to exist. They even publically announce they have given up on shoplifters.

  8. Richard1
    April 2, 2018

    I haven’t heard an coherent explanation from ministers as to what the transition deal is meant to have achieved, except for the ability to conduct 3rd party trade talks and conclude deals, to implement from January 2021. This is significant, but as long as there is vague talk about remaining ‘aligned’ with the eu and in ‘a’ customs union I can’t see that such trade talks will get very far. How, eg, could the U.K. agree tariff free trade with Australia in foods if there is serious contemplation of regulatory and customs alignment with the eu as a backstop solution to the (non-issue) of the Irish border, as Mrs May has offered? Surely the Australians will just say the deal will have to be conditional on the U.K. having a free hand to determine its own trade policy in a final deal with the EU?

    It would have been better just to extend a EU membership by 21 months, at least that way we would still have had some sort of say over new laws and regulations.

    1. Mark B
      April 2, 2018

      If the UK went for the EEA Option , then there would be no need to make concessions on trade deals as we would gain that right automatically. But because the government wanted a bespoke deal, it has opened itself to be picked apart. And picked apart we have.

      The trade deal that you are thinking of is no such thing. It is the rearranging of the deck chairs. Think Soft Remain rather than Leave 😉

  9. Fedupsoutherner
    April 2, 2018

    Off topic. With the celebrations of 100 years of the RAF, I wonder if Andy thinks the veteran pilots deserve their pensions or if they are a burden like the rest of us?

    1. Mark B
      April 2, 2018

      I don’t read or reply to his BS. So would not know.

      1. Dennis Zoff
        April 3, 2018

        Mark B

        Quite….you make up your own!

        1. Dennis Zoff
          April 3, 2018

          Mark B

          Quite…he makes his own!

  10. Henry Spark
    April 2, 2018

    We are not getting the Brexit you promised, Mr Redwood. The cards are stacked heavily in the EU’s favour, contrary to your claims. We are paying billions of pounds, contrary to your claims. We are getting nowhere with new trade deals with the rest of the world, contrary to your claims. Not a penny extra for the NHS, and no controls on immigration. A decent person would admit their errors, but you try to smear civil servants by blaming them for failing to deliver what you so rashly promised

    Reply There is no need to pay them any. money or seek another 21 months transition

    1. Richard1
      April 2, 2018

      We havent left yet – we will be able to judge Brexit only when we know the final deal and have left the EU. Perhaps Continuity Remain and it’s advocates here will be proven right & it will be a disaster, but there are no signs at present and no explanation as to why it should be.

    2. TedC
      April 2, 2018

      Reply to reply..exactly..if the government was true to the referendum result we would be leaving when A50 notice expires 29 march 2019 but government and the political class are coming to a new position on all of this..they want to see about a new deal to suit ourselves..more like membership of the EU by the back door and on the cheap..well it’s not going to run because the EU crowd are onto then what about the 40 billion already promised for departure..well that is already agreed same as the backstop to the Irish matter what these things and movement of people agreed will have to be respected and carried why keep raising that old hare that we have no need to pay? 40 billion is the price for departing and nothing to do about the future.

    3. getahead
      April 2, 2018

      I’m trying to think of when Mr Redwood ever promised anything. I’m sure he didn’t.
      Nor are the cards stacked in the EU’s favour unless like our negotiators you make them so. There is not a penny extra for the NHS because we have not yet left the EU.
      And if you think that the civil service has done anything to help the Brexit process please show me where. The government and the civil service were completely unprepared for a leave vote. The transition is in part to give them time to get themselves organised which should have been done as a contingency, before the Referendum.

  11. Tabulazero
    April 2, 2018

    As it becomes clearer every day that Brexit is not proceeding as you expected and that the UK will be reduced to a protectorat of the European Union during the transition period if not more, you want ministers to censor any civil servants that do not share your enthusiasm for Brexit.

    Shooting the messenger does not make problems go away.

    1. Heath
      April 2, 2018

      Brexit is going wrong and Redwood looks for scapegoats

      1. Tabulazero
        April 2, 2018

        Yes. I have the distinct feeling that the ground is being prepared for the good old “stab in the back” excuse.

        It’s all the civil servant remoaners’ fault.

      2. Mark B
        April 2, 2018

        He was warned by many.

    2. agricola
      April 2, 2018

      The message came from the electorate. Civil servants are clerks not messengers, even when they expect a “K” for making the tea.

    3. Peter
      April 2, 2018

      ‘The fact is the Prime Minister is in charge.’ Or ‘the buck stops here’ to put it another way.

      As she is so clearly failing in her task then it is time for members of her party to remove her. This has been obvious for a long time.

      Yet Conservatives are unable – or more likely unwilling – to do so.

      Hence we head towards Brexit in Name Only.

    4. Denis Cooper
      April 2, 2018

      What I want, to start off with, is for any minister, but preferably the Prime Minister, to explain exactly who authorised Treasury civil servants to produce a new edition of their doomladen pre-referendum Brexit economic forecasts, to name the person or persons who then leaked the preliminary results of those equally defective studies to the media, and state what disciplinary action has been taken.

      1. Timaction
        April 2, 2018

        The same should be applied to the named kit kat in Mr Davis’s team who says we’ll be paying for the EU’s defence but it will be hidden from us taxpayers after Brexit.
        It’s now being floated that your leaders will accept relaxed continuing migration from the EU as part of a trade deal. Really! Why? A bunch of idiots are in charge of these negotiations or rabid remainders? When is action going to be taken to remove your leader who has failed at every turn and take Davis with her!

    5. Ian wragg
      April 2, 2018

      The clue is in the name. Servants. We have voted for leave and any Civil Servants not happy with that should resign. We had to wait 40 years to voice our opinion and we expect it to be honoured.

    6. Lifelogic
      April 2, 2018

      They are not just “the messengers” they are actively creating and exaggerating these non problems at every turn. Alas “its going to be different” May does not seem dealing with these people, nor is she leading with zeal or pro Brexit vision. She is far too much of a dithering, misguided, ex(?) remainer, PC, socialist.

      There are far more advantages in being out of the EU than in. Nimble, democratic and free and when/if we finally get a sensible UK government we can have cheap energy, a bonfire of regulation, free trade, a smaller government, selective quality only immigration and far lower taxes.

    7. Sir Joe Soap
      April 2, 2018

      The blowback for the both the EU and the UK political systems will be severe if what you say comes to fruition. This country will deal with the perpetrators of any deviation from the democratic decision made in June 2016 with the same alacrity with which we have dealt with similar affronts to our democracy by upstarts in past generations.

  12. agricola
    April 2, 2018

    You are normally a very restrained critic of government, so when I read the above address I become concerned that the process of Brexit is not all that government would wish us to believe. Combine it with the reporting in the press of the hostility of the EU to the process, I do not look forward to a good outcome.

    You suggest that Heyward and Robbins are not just purveyors of choices or of options to achieve ministers ends. The implication is that they are leading the process which ministers then follow. If such is the case then the PM needs to get a grip on the situation. Getting it wrong spells the end to her career and to that of the conservative party. Minor considerations against the political mayhem that then would ensue. Time for the Bruges Group to start asking some very direct questions of the PM to which some very direct answers are required. She is not in a PMQ’s point scoring situation, it is serious.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 2, 2018

      The PM first needs to find a sensible sense of direction and then get a grip. Her just getting a grip with her current agenda would not improve matters. She need a working compass and some positive Brexit vision.

      A leader with a grip of her troops but a compass pointing over the cliff is not a good thing. As we saw with John Major when he buried the Tories for many terms. Surely we are not going to allow T May to repeat this are we?

    2. Rien Huizer
      April 2, 2018

      What would a good outcome be? The “hostility” reported by “the press” is either a figment of “the press” imagination or real. If real some traces of that hostility were to be found in European papers as well. I happen to read the leading papers (not nevcessarily tabloids) of Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands and occasionally english langiuage versions of Spanish and Swedish papers. These yield not “hostility” but rather a combination of bewilderment (about the UK position and its lack of active negotiation), fatigue/apathy and in the better papers, impatience of the type, “if you want to leave, pse go!”. But why would they be hostile? It is a much bigger deal for the UK than for the EU and the UK press (most of the UK press is in hands with a clear anti-EU agenda, so maybe that “hostility” fits their narrative.

  13. Norman
    April 2, 2018

    Agree entirely, John. The fact is, however, that Ministers individually, and the Government as a whole, must take the lead a little more decisively, to compensate for decades of doctrine that is hard to shake off. Bear in mind also, that there are many from other EU countries now happily settled here and employed by the Civil Service, some of whom are, quite naturally, rising stars. With all due respect to my former colleagues, this is like turning round an oil tanker in the English Channel, in the midst of politically swelling seas – it will take time, a calmness of nerve, and very concerted political leadership. Perhaps Mrs May does ‘get it’, but she will certainly need robust support from the wings. That’s why many of us here so appreciate and support your efforts.

  14. Bryan Harris
    April 2, 2018

    With a remain chancellor, what are the chances that treasury officials will actually do their job properly – it strikes me that MP’s should be monitoring their actions very closely to ensure they do what is required of them…

    1. Lifelogic
      April 2, 2018

      A remain chancellor who is a socialist and economic illiterate too. One who gives us the highest and most complex taxes for 40 years, doing huge & pointless economic damage.

      1. WA Laugh
        April 2, 2018

        Have you ever filled a US tax return or a French one? I would guess not.
        That’s using both superlatives for effects, which might not be deserved.

  15. Mark B
    April 2, 2018

    Good morning.

    I happen to disagree with the advice that the UK needs to keep on offering concessions . . .

    We are having to offer concessions because we are the ones leaving. For the EU, from April 2019 it will be business as usual. But for the UK it will be practically starting all over again. We were never in as stronger position as we lead ourselves to believe. But there were those that refused to listen and are now realising that we simply cannot just walk away. We have allowed the EU to do all our admin whilst those that are tasked to do the that job have been happy to rubber stamp EU directives, turn them into law and pick up their pay cheques, pensions and gongs. After the referendum all that was put in danger.

    We will remain in the EU in all but name. The EU wants to tidy things up a bit. To that end, I predict that there will be a treaty in the offing, served up as a trade agreement, that will bind us to the EU as an Associate Member. EU-Lite ! The Fat-Cat-corporates have won. They got the BREXIT they wanted – no BREXIT / SOFT REMAIN.

    Never in all of human history has a great nation such as this been so poorly served by both its government, politicians and its civil service.

    This will go down in history as the second biggest mistake the UK has made in the last 50 years. The first, joining the Stupid Club in the first place. A project created nearly 100 years ago by a British Civil Servant (Arthur Salter) and a French Civil Servant (Jean Monnet). Go figure !

  16. Sir Joe Soap
    April 2, 2018

    The false rumours and forecasts eventually deal with themselves. However if civil servants are negotiating our future prosperity and freedom away then the Prime Minister and secondarily her MPs, need to heed the advice of the country or be consigned to an inglorious history.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 2, 2018

      The pro remain bias in the BBC, civil service, academia, the Commons, the Lords, the legal profession and “the arts” is massive. These groups are totally out of touch with reality and the demands and interest of most voters. But then they are out of touch on most issues:- climate alarmism, tax payer subsidies for “the arts”, endless political correctness, the no deterrent, do nothing if possible, criminal justice system, the size of the state sector and their desire to give away our democracy to EU bureaucrats.

      1. Lifelogic
        April 2, 2018

        “totally out of touch with reality” or they have strong vested interests that are against those of the public.

      2. Lerto
        April 2, 2018

        70 per cent of Uni Graduates voted Remain.

        70 oer cent of people with no qualifications at all voted Leave

        1. Timaction
          April 3, 2018

          and the propaganda/communication budget in the EU to further education and schools is………..????

        2. David Price
          April 3, 2018

          Would that 70% come from the HEPI poll as reported in the guardian? In which case your statement is wrong on several counts. That figure relates only to a sample of 1000 full-time students, not all students, and not graduates. As they have not graduated yet they have no qualifications either.

          Perhaps you could cite your sources.

        3. Dennis Zoff
          April 3, 2018


          Erudite research and tangible official Facts and Figures please , not Remainer puerile hysteria, thank you!

        4. libertarian
          April 3, 2018


          Most successful businesses are founded by and run by people who weren’t Uni graduates. They employ the graduates and then re train them to think properly

    2. bigneil
      April 2, 2018

      ” Prime Minister . . . consigned to an inglorious history ” ? I am 100% certain that TM would not be bothered about that at all. She wants her position at the top Brussels table. Giving them every penny – and more – that this nation has, will not lose her any sleep, neither will letting them send millions of 3rd Worlders here to be our destruction. She just wants to be sat there, Lording it over the rest of us.

      1. L Jones
        April 2, 2018

        I really did want to believe that Mrs May was playing the long game. I tried to keep that faith for a long time. But it does seem now that you are right – she is looking for her seat at the ”top Brussels table”. I hope against hope every day that SOMETHING will occur, or be said, that hints to us that she is on the side of her country and not out for herself.
        But it seems more and more unlikely. How sad is that?

  17. Lifelogic
    April 2, 2018

    More increases in the absurdly misguided workplace pension scheme to come in next week. Effectively another tax on employers and employees keeping wage increases further depressed. Why on earth should someone be virtually forced to save into a pension? Perhaps they have expensive credit card debts or are saving to buy a house. Or perhaps they have a short life expectancy for some medical reason or more urgent immidiate needs

    Once again we have the “government knows best one size fits all approach”. We are governed by and utter economic illiterates. Auto enrollment is hugely damaging for many it damages productivity and living standards and creates even more pointless parasitic jobs.

    David Gauke:- “There’s no doubt that auto enrolment has been a huge success since its introduction in 2015″…… “rebuilt the UK’s savings culture”.

    What complete drivel, in what way is it a success? Government have just forced companies (by law) to do something that for many people and many businesses is totally daft and a rather damaging thing to do. For the people, for many businesses and the economy in general.

    1. Dennis Zoff
      April 3, 2018


      As a businessman l concur with your comment….this action will only delay new employment and I have already issued a dictum to all groups to look closely at their 2018 personnel budgets! Government actions do have consequences!

  18. L Jones
    April 2, 2018

    Most of us would agree with this. But there seem to be many ”shoulds” here, as if it were wishful thinking.

    Is it again a case of ”Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’ ”?

  19. Epikouros
    April 2, 2018

    It appears the UK like the USA has a deep state. Where as in the USA the security services controls most of theirs having been aided and abetted on occasions by their IRS, DOJ, DNC and even the president ours is mostly controlled by civil servants and the agencies foolishly hived off our ministries in the misguided belief that would make the business of government function better. It does not it make accountability and control more difficult and increases the numbers of people with power who use it to impose their beliefs on the rest of us which we have little power to resist.

    As you say it is no business of civil servants or any other unelected individual or group to tamper with the policies and actions as decided by voters and elected government. Those paid to carry out government actions may of course advise but only on legal and technical matters to assist in the smooth implementation of policies. Unfortunately the unscrupulous can dress up their advice to make advice that is intended to also change policy and therefore not facilitate it as being sound only given to ensure legal and technical compliance. In essence what civil servants are endeavouring to do by nefarious means is implement a coup and usurp the authority of our government and citizens. In this case it cannot be said to be a serious threat but once the precedent is set then what is not to stop some body like the military doing it next time.

  20. jerry
    April 2, 2018

    “Many individual civil servants may have voted Remain, but they must all be Brexiteers now in their professional lives, as they are working for a people who have decided to leave and a government which is seeking to do so.”

    Nonsense, they remain (no pun intended) Civil Servants, making sure “Ministers obey the law and operate within their powers”, just as they would have done had the result been Remain with ardent europhile politicos demanding the UK allows its self to be drawn ever deeper into the will of the eurocrats in Brussels and the conversion of 28-into-1 with creation of the USE. Would you have written such a scathing attack on the civil service in such a situation, I doubt it, you would be championing their independence from partisan politicians.

    “Many Eurosceptic MPs offer different advice.”

    Yes (and the same applies to Europhile MPs et al too), often highly partisan ‘advice’, not always what is best for the country or its people but what is good for party -and perhaps, in some cases, simply what would be best for the politicos own career.

    “After years of having to conform, from March 2019 – unless we sign it away again – we will be free to do as we wish.”

    No we will not, we will still be subject to international law, the UNHCR, the ECHR and the Council of Europe etc…

    “We do not need any more mapping of Project Fear. We need some practical answers to a series of detailed matters, all of which can be resolved. “

    Indeed, so when will Brexiteers stop their own “Project Fear”? Oh how daft of me, expecting Brexiteers to stop using the very fear that was used to secure Brexit!

  21. BOF
    April 2, 2018

    Were Heyward & Robins working for a private Company, their actions would be deemed to be against the interests of the Company and in support of the competition. They would be sacked immediately.

    The Prime Minister quite plainly wants and welcomes this advice so we know exactly where the fault lies. As her removal by MP’s seems unlikely, it will have to wait for an election at which time many of those MP’s will suffer the same fate as their boss.

  22. JimS
    April 2, 2018

    The PM should have had all the PUSs into Number 10 on day one and told them we were leaving the EU and that if any of them that felt they were unable to implement that policy they should leave their resignation on the way out.

    Those PUSs that stayed in post should then have carried out a similar exercise on the return to their own departments.

    Direction comes from the top.

  23. frankD
    April 2, 2018

    Too many “shoulds” here and assumptions- things are obviously not going to plan and any amount of trying to talk things up will not help either? am afraid

  24. English Pensioner
    April 2, 2018

    Most of us have to do what we are told in our jobs; as an engineer, on several occasions, I have believed that I had a better way of doing a particular job, but the boss had decided and it was done his way.
    Why do Civil Servants seem to be different and expect the boss to let them do a job their way?

  25. slartibartfast
    April 2, 2018

    My understanding is that generally civil servants are gleefully awaiting the moment when the PM grovels to be let back into the EU as a vassal State.

  26. iain
    April 2, 2018

    I get the feeling that our PM has only one aim which is that we shall leave the EU as per the Referendum result. When we leave or on what terms is apparently something to be decided by others. If it is a bad deal she shall of course be blameless.

  27. Denis Cooper
    April 2, 2018

    I will be interested to hear your lecture this afternoon, JR:

    “Brexit lecture – including the impact of the EU on our economy over 45 years”

    In my view the economic impact of EU membership has been marginal; I think it’s more likely to have been negative rather than positive, but either way it’s only been marginal in the context of an economy which has had a natural trend growth rate of 2.5% a year more or less since the last war, without any clear indications of overall economic effects either from our accession to the EEC or so-called Common Market or the later creation of the EU Single Market.

    However just as the economic effects, supposedly “benefits”, of our EU membership have been grossly exaggerated by its advocates over past decades so too the economic effects of withdrawal have also been grossly exaggerated in their forecasts.

    It’s a strange situation where pro-EU UK civil servants are negotiating with an EU official who in a previous position boasted about the benefits of the EU Single Market, and who knows that his interlocutors are taking a grossly exaggerated view of those benefits and therefore of the potential losses from withdrawal.

    “I guess that Michel Barnier will be laughing up his sleeve at us.

    He knows perfectly well from his time as the EU Commissioner in charge of the EU Single Market that it has had very little economic benefit, here he is in 2012:

    “20 years of the European Single Market”

    In that report he said that the collective GDP of the EU member states in 2008 was 2.13% higher than it would have been if the Single Market had not been launched in 1992, and it had produced a 1.3% increase in employment across the EU.”

  28. VotedOut
    April 2, 2018

    Even now, it is not uncommon to encounter furious remainers prepared to hurl abuse at anyone they remotely believe voted leave.

    The effect of the elites’ continual backsliding, is that it is promoting and extending the intensity of these feelings. This is doing great harm to British society.

    I would welcome a firm statement from the PM that the nation as a whole should now pull together and focus on building a country WE collectively want based on this new reality. That statement should make it clear that in a democracy we accept the will of the majority even if that majority is by one vote.

    No one who voted leave expects a trouble free future, but it will be OUR future and not subordinate to some anti-British cabal in a foreign land. You don’t have to be a Conservative or a Labour supporter to accept this, just British will do.

    1. Globetrotter
      April 2, 2018

      Remainers are entitled to their views just as much as leavers. It is hypocrisy of the highest order to demand they change their views just as the leavers did not change their views for the 40 years since the previous referendum. The problem at the momet is there is no clear and realistic plan to support for a way forward that is not economically very damaging and no clear idea what the final Brexit goal will be. I do know from my years working in Brazil, USA and India that we have far to few products and services of interest to those markets to compensate for any major loss of exports to the EU.

      Reply We did. Those of us who voted for Out in 1975 accepted the result and did not argue for Out again until many years had passed the EEC had transformed into the much more powerful EU

  29. ian
    April 2, 2018

    You see it all the time, water down, water down the manifesto policy till either it is dropped or has no meaning so nobody wins but all in parliament say that they have won the debate, and then go on to release false reports to the media.

  30. Dave Andrews
    April 2, 2018

    It occurs to me that this is the real reason for Brexit being a bad idea. Nothing to do with economic arguments that the UK can’t prosper on the global stage, but the fact that the civil service doesn’t have the wit for government use. The expertise for government has been outsourced to Brussels, and the civil service is now without the competence required.

  31. nigel seymour
    April 2, 2018

    J, Sometimes you come across an image and you think they look pretty much inadequate re AS. Anyway, books and covers blah blah. Kier Starmer I think was well regarded and should be a big big heads up for the tories if he decided to run for leader/PM – you heard it here…

  32. William Long
    April 2, 2018

    I wonder if the Treasury officials were really under instructions from the then Chancellor to produce the poor work they did ahead of the Referendum. I have always asssumed that they gave the Chancellor poor advice about the likely result of our leaving the EU, which he was delighted to accept as it chimed with his own misguided view, and told them to proceeded as they had suggested.

  33. Denis Cooper
    April 2, 2018

    Blimey, just read this from the euromaniac Wolfgang Munchau in the FT:

    “The time for revoking Brexit has passed”

    “Britain’s economy has failed to collapse and the EU has moved on”

    “The third reason is that the UK economy has failed to collapse, contrary to predictions. The revocateurs’ strongest argument used to be that an economic calamity would cause a nationwide rethink.

    That did not happen. The forecasters will no doubt double down as they always have done, but their credibility has been irretrievably damaged.”

    Well, the doomsters have always had zero credibility as far as I’ve been concerned and it is true that their credibility should now be irretrievably damaged as far as the general public is concerned, but that certainly doesn’t stop dishonest opponents of Brexit treating their post-referendum doomladen forecasts as proven fact rather than as just new editions of their pre-referendum doomladen forecasts.

  34. Lifelogic
    April 2, 2018

    “The fact is the Prime Minister is in charge” – well this hardly inspires confidence. Has she made any sensible choices at all. She was pro remain, lied to voters about Schengen, ruled out a point based immigration system, failed to control immigration at all, selected P Hammond as chancellor (who now has the highest and most complex taxes for 40 years), wants more religious schools, more gender pay reporting lunacy, higher minimum wages, the work place pension, to build on EU worker rights, agreed the huge leaving free, agree the absurd transition period, called an early election with a “vote for me and we will kick our supporters in the teeth” manifesto and cowardly failed even to appear in the TV debate ……

    She even put hunting in the manifesto! And I agree with hunting, but it was never going to win votes or get through parliament.

  35. Sybil
    April 2, 2018

    Relying on Jeremy Hayward and the civil service to deliver brexit is like asking Arthur Scargill and the NUM to devise and implement a pit closure programme.

  36. ian
    April 2, 2018

    Maybe that’s why civil servants love the EU, only work that is needed is to translate the new law from the EU into the UK law, job and home. The voters can fight it out at the next election between manifesto of usual parties and still end up in no man’s land, it’s about time parliament came clean and dissolved party politics, by that I mean all MPs in parliament against the few MPs which are chosen to make up the government, in that way only good laws will be passed with more debate and MPs having no allegiance to the government of the day, only the people who voted for them, with private members bills by MPs being put forward more with MPs coming forward with more ideas which can be passed with support of the house and overal the gov of the day and civil servants.

    Party politics is all a con trick on the voters put forward by the corporate media.

  37. Toby Jug
    April 2, 2018

    I confess knowing a hair’s breadth next to nothing about the inside workings of the civil service in regard to Brexit.
    I do not understand why I hear the opinions of senior serving and ex-civil servants. Even my genuinely humble work in finance barred and bars public expression of confidential information on pain of legal action. I would not do it anyway.So I guess I am not up to being a Tom Thumb civil servant sitting on the shoulder of Mrs May whispering sickly nonsenses in her ear.

  38. Rien Huizer
    April 2, 2018

    Mr Redwood, if you are unhappy about government policy (your own party’s government) what keeps you from voting it down? I am sure the Opposition would oblige..
    ERG arguments are well known but apparently do not convince the PM and het government. What are your realistic expectations re what this and many other similar articles will achieve?

  39. Andy
    April 2, 2018

    Again – because your Brexit is clearly going to be a car crash you accuse others of bad faith.

    “It is going wrong because of the EU. It is going wrong because of the BBC. It is going wrong because of Remoaners. It is going wrong because of the Civil Service.”

    No, it is going wrong because it is a thoroughly lousy, incoherent, contradictory idea which does not stand up to even the most basic scrutiny. (Which is why Brexiteers are desperate to avoid scrutiny).

    It’s a sad truth that during the 40+ years Tory Eurosceptics spent raging at the EU none of you, not one, ever bothered to come up with better solutions. This is why we are in such a mess now.

    No one has ever claimed the EU is perfect – it is not. But your ‘solutions’ are clearly worse.
    No answer for the Irish border, none for customs, no better answers to citizens rights and a host of other issues – the silence has been deafening.

    Brexiteers will own the blame for this monumental mess. It is telling that you are already trying to shift it on to others.

    1. Edward2
      April 2, 2018

      You are obsessed with trade.
      We left to become an independent nation.
      There is no silence on the outstanding issues you mention from us or the EU
      They are matter remain to be decided by negotiation over the next year.

      1. Andy
        April 2, 2018

        You claim you knew what you were voting for. And yet you clearly have no idea what you voted for because, as you admit, it hasn’t been negotiated yet.

        Here’s a thought – what happens when you don’t like what is negotiated?

        1. Edward2
          April 3, 2018

          You are still talking about trade.
          That is what is the main thing being negotiated.
          If no suitable result can be negotiated then so be it.
          We have the WTO option.

          The fundamentals stand.
          We end our membership of the EU
          Treaties we signed no longer apply
          We gain control over our laws our borders our courts and Parliament becomes supreme.

        2. libertarian
          April 4, 2018


          At last you ask a sensible question. What we voted for was to leave the EU, the single market, the customs union , the EAW, the ECJ etc

          If our politicians fail us on this, we vote the government out , thats what having control of our democracy is about

          When our government does things we dont like we vote them out when the EU does things we dont like we have to put up with it as there is no mechanism to remove them. THAT is entirely why we voted to leave

          By george I think its starting to permeate Andy’s brain

    2. Richard1
      April 2, 2018

      How do all those prosperous countries which aren’t in the EU manage? Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, NZ etc? Surely they should all apply to join the EU or else quickly merge with the nearest big country to make a supra-national bloc?

      1. Peter Parsons
        April 3, 2018

        Singapore, Australia and New Zealand are all members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Swutzerland is a member of ETFA.

    3. Anonymous
      April 2, 2018

      The country was opened up to uncontrolled immigration against the will of the majority.

      There had to be consequences for that.

      Here they are.

      1. Anonymous
        April 2, 2018

        It wasn’t Redwoodian ideals that led to Brexit.

        The People forced it.

        The People turned their backs on mainstream parties and forced a referendum.

        Andy. In a democracy you cannot go bitch-slapping people about the face (as you have done many times here) and not expect there to be a backlash.

        Be thankful that it was done peacefully and by patient, due democratic process.

        Accept that you were outflanked and get behind what the majority have chosen.

      2. Andy
        April 2, 2018

        Not very on message. I thought Brexit was about Global Britain wanting to expand out in the world. You’re talking about a Little Britain which is scared of foreigners.

        Incidentally – immigration is and, since 2010, has been under the control of the Tories. You expect the people who have failed to deliver what you want for the last 8 years to deliver it now? Bless.

        1. Edward2
          April 3, 2018

          EU immigration is not under UK control Andy.
          As you must know, freedom of movement is a major part of EU membership.

        2. Anonymous
          April 3, 2018

          Yes. It is still taboo to talk about uncontrolled immigration. Very different to being ‘scared of foreigners’ – UK multiculturalism was coming on nicely until Tony Blair started taking the piss.

          Xenophobia is different to being worried about numbers and you well know it buy lie and lie.

    4. slartibartfast
      April 2, 2018

      You lot may be the first tribe ever to wish to be governed by unknown people over whom you have no control.

    5. Mr Peaton-Thashallot
      April 2, 2018

      Andy when you exit the UK before armageddon on 29th march 2019, will it be Soft UKExit taking with you old recording of the Bay City Rollers or a Hard UKExit leaving behind Rupert and Beano Annuals?

  40. StanleyW
    April 2, 2018

    Don’t know where we are going with all of this..unfortunately we cannot believe a word from our politicians any more..the era of fake news has arrived I suppose..

  41. forthurst
    April 2, 2018

    Is it not time to pin the blame where it rightly belongs? I read today that the Cabinet’s European Union Exit and Trade (Strategy and Negotiations) sub-Committee is pushing Mrs May to offer continuing mass uncontrolled immigration from the EU for a ‘better’ trade deal. It is also suggested that Mrs May has always been an immigration hawk. Ho Hum.

    When people voted to leave the EU, they were very much aware that that would enable the government to end mass uncontrolled immigration and for many this was the primary reason for their vote; people who approved of mass uncontrolled immigration voted to Remain and that includes the majority of the Tory MPs and the majority of the cabinet. The Tory Party is a globalist Europhile Party whilst the people are patriotic and Eurosceptic.

    It is incredible to suggest that a united cabinet behind a strong PM could not ensure the Civil service does their bidding. The problem is the Tory Party which is held in power by the FPTP electoral system. In Germany and Italy where they have fairer electoral systems, the Centre Left and Centre Right are on the back foot, particularly in Italy where they were slaughtered and deservedly so at the last election.

  42. Robert Betteridge
    April 2, 2018

    Cogitating on an article (, which defines Hard Brexit as WTO Most Favoured Nation rates and soft as no Import tariffs, just Non-tariff barriers, and concludes that both the UK and the EU27 will loose under both scenarios, it occurs to me that there is a ‘no lose, third option’ which would satisfy the Irish question as well.
    Brexit is fundamentally an Apples and Pears conundrum. Control versus Fair.
    The EU is following Mayer Amschel Rothschild’s, possibly apocryphal, ” Give me control of a Nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws”.
    Interestingly the higher echelons of British socioeconomic groups are split 50/50, with the exception of the Academics, in a little bubble of their own reading the Guardian?
    Leavers could be said to think Brussels, and the Euro, are unfair, Remainers exemplify the “Struck by Project Fear “, “I’m all right Jack” and “Is life possible outside the EU?”.
    The balance is tipped by those knowing they have the shitty end of the stick.
    Hopefully Brussels has lost most of the Billions (£24 per annum) that we pour into its coffers. It doesn’t (yet) have us in the Euro.
    The 27 don’t need to put their hands up for further grief.
    It’s up to them whether they accept more pain dictated by Brussels or “Live in the Day” (Cesar Milan)
    Unlike the 27 we have “Common Law” embedded in our psyche. If we make an agreement we can be trusted, in the main. We’ve had 40 years of obeying EU diktats to the letter.
    We prefer few mutually agreed rules to which we adhere by common consent, rather than a multiplicity of regulations on everything – honoured by being ignored when inconvenient.
    I see no reason why trade should not continue just as it is [no tariffs, no non-tariff barriers, occasional checks] – but graft on an “EX 28” channel – where origination, and thus charges, can be evaluated. Agree to heavy penalties for “Smugglers”.
    Everyone, except Brussels, could have what’s left of the cake and eat it, rather than chucking it in the bin.
    The 27 don’t have to suffer Brussel’s ‘Dog in a Manger’, the 28’s ‘Horse has Bolted’.
    Surely Win Win’s a Cherry worth Picking?

  43. rose
    April 2, 2018

    Besides the very good points you make, Mr Redwood, your colleagues need to ram home to these civil servants and their puppet politicians that our fishing grounds are not just of concern to fishermen. These saboteurs seem to think a few fishermen don’t count economically or electorally, so the whole rotten act of giving our waters away all over again will go more or less unnoticed. How can these bubble dwellers still be so desperately out of touch?

    1. Jane4brexit
      April 4, 2018

      The fishing industry has been calculated as being worth £6.3m by Fishing for Leave and more if associated trade and benefits are added too. Looking at Comments in the media it seems the British people are very concerned about both the fish themselves and about us getting our up to 200 mile grounds back, even some Remainers reluctantly admit this.
      The British are animal lovers and the wanton destruction of our fishing grounds by other EU countries, plus the insane throwback rules and electric pulse fishing among other things mean this is a peoples ‘red line’ but the government does not seem to realise this.
      I read the following in a comment on Conservative Woman, imagine the jobs something similar here would bring with it:

      “UK Mainland coastline 11,073 miles vs Japanese coastline 18,000 miles

      The Japanese Coastguard has 121 patrol ships, 234 patrol boats, 63 rescue vessels, 27 fixed wing aircraft and 46 helicopters. In addition it is taking on 4 destroyers from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force which also operates its own coastal patrol ships.

      The Japanese government believes in protecting its country and people, their identity, heritage and culture. The British government believes Britain should be a global free-for-all and protects nothing except the bean counters.”

      1. Jane4brexit
        April 4, 2018

        Sorry should say £6.3 billion a year not million!

  44. ian
    April 2, 2018

    I meant, overrule the government of the day and civil servants. At the moment MPs hands are tied to party dogma with the gov always having a majority in parliament to do what they want with most MPs in the party having no say, and are whipped into voting for the gov, even if they feel that their own gov is wrong and have to keep quiet and vote whatever it is through.

    But as it was a people’s ref, politician feel they can do or say what they like and overrule the people’s vote with help of all their friends in politic and establishment back up by the corporate media.

  45. agricola
    April 2, 2018

    ref Speakers House Lecture.

    Thank you for the comprehensive clarity within your lecture.

    It was telling that the BBC allotted more than twice the time to Kenneth Clark. However seventy five minutes of stuttering disdain of the electorate did nothing to convince that here were anything less than the ruminant mutterings of a dinosaur. His most ironic thought was that Parliament will have little role in the process to Brexit, while conveniently overlooking the reality that it is membership of the EU that has made Parliament largely redundant. On trade he warned that we would suffer the protectionism that is out there in the World waiting to snare us, while totally ignoring the protectionism that is inherent in the EU’s concept of trade.

    One and a quarter hours of waffle was well targeted with your thirty minutes of precise neuro
    surgery. Top marks in coverage and clarity.

    Reply Thanks. It was a pity the BBC did not film the Q and A which followed – I was told they were filming the event – as I left plenty of time for exchanges with the audience, and included in my exchanges the “Are we there yet” sequence.

  46. Ron Olden
    April 2, 2018

    There’s likely to be a slight hit to the industrial output figures in the first quarter, owing to the freezing weather.

    The rain over Easter will also have affected the retail sales figures, over what might have been expected to be a weekend of better sales. I doubt if many chose to go away for the weekend either, and decided instead, to save up and spend the cash in May.

    I live in a tourist town and it’s been a washout. I’m looking forward to filling my freezer with all the food the Co-op is going to have to sell off cheap tomorrow.

    I’m just pointing all this out in advance of the numbers coming out, so as to prepare people for Remainiac celebrations when they see them, and claiming the miniscule decimal point downgrades, are earthquakes caused by Brexit.

  47. Timaction
    April 2, 2018

    So now we know half the electoral Commission are known Remoaners. Who’d have thought that the Civil Service and public services are riddled with Blairite leftist pro EU appointments. It was the first thing Blair did on taking office to preserve his legacy. The Tory’s either agree or are to incompetent to have noticed or done anything about it! I suppose before the referendum they were all the same but they have to change when we’ve left or they will forever work against us!

  48. Prigger
    April 2, 2018

    No, I didn’t like her

  49. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    April 2, 2018

    On a lighter note. I was part of a Bruges group, but it was many years ago on a school trip.We went to Holland and France , visited many Art galleries and places of interest . We looked at the graves of many soldiers who died in the wars , teenagers not much older than ourselves , who needlessly lost their lives due to a dictator who did not want people to be free to choose.Hitler wanted it his way or none at all.
    I remember most of all the cones of’ frites’ on the corners of the Belgium squares and the lack of crowds. That was our Bruges group where we learned what freedom is.

  50. ian
    April 2, 2018

    I think there are over 200 con party PMs who are rebels on Brexit but have put forward only 15, which is number required to vote down any vote in parliament on Brexit if they want, while the other says they are for Brexit to try to keep the con party vote up for the next election.

  51. mancunius
    April 2, 2018

    The principal reason that ‘people don’t know it’, is that it is quite simply untrue.
    The EEA (and by extension EFTA) are subject to EU law and ECJ rulings, and the EFTA/EEA Court mirrors them, and has ruled several times that EU law is paramount and takes precedence over national law. As Carl Baudenbacher, the President of the Efta Court has pointed out, EEA law is “essentially identical in substance” to EC law.
    See his paper: “The Implementation of Decisions of the ECJ and of the EFTA Court in Member States’ Domestic Legal Orders” (Texas International Law Journal) in which he stresses this point in detail.
    The majority vote was to leave the EU and all its institutions. Nobody (except maybe Dan Hannan) voted Leave thinking ‘Oh, well, maybe we can leave but still stay under its jurisdiction in the EEA.’

    1. mancunius
      April 2, 2018

      This was in answer to Mike Stallard (5.51am).

  52. mancunius
    April 2, 2018

    One of JR’s phrases particularly caught my attention:
    “The PM…decides which advice she likes best…” I rather fear that precisely this is the problem. The advice Mrs May ‘likes best’ is (in line with her other policies) middle-of-the-road, anodyne, soft-left, nanny-state, PR-friendly, and anxious to ‘see the other fellow’s side’.
    Naturally, the ‘advisers’ she has chosen (including Mr Robbins) reflect her tastes, which suit their plans very well.

  53. Michael Wood
    April 2, 2018

    Dr Redwood

    I rather think you were grinding your teeth when you wrote this piece.
    I notice that the BBC showed the film ‘Cromwell’ over the Easter weekend, covering Charles the First wanting absolute authority over Parliament and the people and the resultant civil war.
    It’s ironic, don’t you think, that we now have the majority of the House of Commons and the Lords, together with the Civil Service, wanting to overthrow the referendum result.

    I should appreciate your explanation of why, now that we have decided to leave, that we are still agreeing to all sorts of things, e.g free movement etc

  54. hans chr iversen
    April 2, 2018


    A lot of what you are saying of course makes sense, one might fundamentally disagree with you about your ideas and thoughts on Europe and the European Union, but that may be as it is.

    THe problem we ahve delayed the practical solutions for so long now, that we will not be ready by March 2019, with all the practical issues you mentioned and would like solved , whether there is a deal or no deal

    Reply The govt says it will be ready

  55. Sun Beam
    April 2, 2018

    Emergency! Alert! Warning!. Beware!
    The Met Office has issued an amber warning. It is 2nd April and dammit we can expect, well I’ll walk to the bottom of stairs, April 2nd weather.

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2018

      Yeah sun beam. We got a couple of snowflakes.

  56. rose
    April 2, 2018

    What an excellent lecture that was in Speaker’s House, and beautifully delivered too. How could they not have been won over? My only disappointment was that the BBC didn’t broadcast the questions and answers.

  57. ian
    April 2, 2018

    I think votes are just bad as a politician, always looking around for someone to blame, in the case of politician they blame civil servants and the EU, votes blame politician and their party and leader, in both cases it never their own fault, but the politician will carry supporting the EU and voters will carry supporting their party through thick and fin and all spouting BS as they go down a slippery pole to the bottom and all pleading and pledging their innocent.

  58. margaret howard
    April 2, 2018

    “The fact is the Prime Minister is in charge. She decides which advice she likes best, and she decides who her advisers will be”

    Unfortunately experience suggests that she normally takes the advice of the last person to walk out of her office door.

  59. Miss Rickets
    April 3, 2018

    (Caracus )Reuters ,Health News 21st February 2018

    “Venezuelans reported losing an average of 11 kilograms ( 24 pounds ) in body weight last year…”
    You too can join the Corbyn diet plan. It is a beacon of Hope.

    Thin gruel, as Jacob Rees-Mogg also said of the Cameron EU negotiation

  60. stred
    April 3, 2018

    Good luck with trying to control the civil service when you have a Remainer PM and Chancellor with half the Tory MPs agreeing with them.

    Behind the scenes, our PM is pursuing her own agenda and will only make the right noises in order to ensure her own survival. She is a member of the elite club and does their bidding.

  61. simon slater
    April 3, 2018

    OK John – what are you going to do about it? We are relying on you.

  62. DrakeB
    April 3, 2018

    We are going to become a vassal state but it shouldn’t be a surprise we are aftet all a vassal people..we believe in the divine right of kings and queens..we pay homage to lords and princes of the church?all a part of who wr are and we won’t be any different until we get up off our knees declare real independance and take things back to purselves as a people..juas as in Cromwell lord protecters time

  63. Ron Olden
    April 4, 2018

    Ministers might well ‘decide’ and civil servants ‘advise’.

    But the complexity of modern Government and the huge scope of the State is such, that in practice Civil Servants make the decisions on all but the big policy issues.

    And even when ministers ‘decide’ they can still only make their decisions based upon the options Civil Servants tell them they can choose from, and are bound to be heavily influenced by the advice they are given.

    Brexit however might be a bit different because there’s so much advice and political pressure coming from all over the place. But don’t count on it.

    This (some would say), excessive civil service influence isn’t new. It’s an historic feature of the England. Even ‘hands on’ Medieval Monarchs relied on their Privy Counsel and an Inner Circle of Office holders (whatever those offices might be), to do everything

    There was however, at least some sense of direction and control over policy, but that was only because the monarch, who might be there for decades had so much power, and patronage, and the issues he or she had to grapple with, were much more limited in scope.

    Nowadays Civil Servants can drag their feet and assume the person in power will be gone within a reasonable time. They always have one eye on the succession and can sometimes actively undermine the incumbents.

    But neither absolute monarchs, nor today’s electorate can will things into existence simply by voting for them. They have to find someone who’s capable and willing to make it all work.

    This arrangement is the price we pay for putting the State in charge of so much of our lives. ‘Democracy’ isn’t any substitute for ‘Freedom’ at the best of times, and ‘Bureaucracy’ ‘Democracy’

    We have traded liberty for bureaucracy, in exchange for an element of economic and social security. Depending on our individual outlook and circumstances, that might or might not, be good thing. But the existence of Parliament is, to a greater or lesser extent, merely a facade which legitimises the whole apparatus.

    It anyone wants to see examples of environments where the hired help really do rule the roost, look no further than Local Authorities and things like the NHS and Education. These organisations are run largely for the benefit of the people they employ.

    Some elected councillors are routinely subservient to the hired help, and the actual customers have to take what they are given.

    Lin Dems for example, routinely send me election leaflets telling me that they would give the NHS more money, but leave it to the staff to decide what to spend it on. They call it ‘leaving it to the professionals’.

    I respond by asking them whether they themselves send a pile of money to Tesco every week and tell the ‘professionals’ at Tesco to deliver whatever items they think fit.

    I did get reply once. They told me that NHS staff are ‘different’. Tesco (and presumably its employees) work for a ‘profit’. whereas NHS employees are ‘dedicated professionals’. I replied again asking them if NHS staff and contractors worked for nothing.

    No reply yet.

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