Theresa May PMQ

The resignation of Britain’s top negotiator to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, is still causing heartburn for the government as civil servants speak out against the government.

Yesterday the PM appointed Sir Tim Barrow to replace him, a move largely seen as sensible and safe.

But that hasn’t stopped key civil servants from privately speaking out. The Times reports today:

“This is a mandarin revolt because of what they are hearing from inside. They are reflecting the concerns at the general behaviour of Mrs May’s team and the lack of direction, coupled with the general desire to blame the civil service for everything,” one serving senior civil servant said.

Worse, several former civil servants have gone on the record to criticse the government too:

Sir Simon Fraser, head of the Foreign Office from 2010 until 2015, said that the loss of Sir Ivan would be keenly felt and redirected criticism towards the lack of a plan in Downing Street. “We know that the government did not have a clear plan for Brexit after the referendum; we know that the government has been through a process of gathering information across Whitehall in order to put a negotiating position together, and we know that that is taking quite a lot of time. So that is a matter for concern,” he said.

Lord Kerslake, head of the home civil service from2012 to 2014, said in a letter to The Times that the government’s readiness for Brexit was in question. He added: ”I have no doubt about the underlying commitment and skills of the civil service to serve the government well on Brexit. But to do this they need to be clearly led, resourced properly to do the job and listened to even when their advice is not welcome.”


This is doubly bad for the Tories, not only because we all know the criticism is deserved, but because low morale will make it even harder for the government to get its work done.

The incompetence of this government is now in plain sight

  1. Chairman May’s government is beyond incompetent. If she really wanted to pursue the madness of Brexit, she should have invoked Article 50 on the day she became Prime Minister rather than plunging the country into months of chaos.

  2. Caroline cherry says:

    Of course Mrs May couldn’t trigger A 50 as there was no plan and that is the nub of the issue. There is a clear split between those that believe immigration is the top issue and those that believe it’s all about the economy. The majority did not vote to be poorer and the referendum was advisory so let’s hope this government extracts itself from a tricky situation and finds the third way which is to remain.

  3. The Leave side is totally split between those wanting more protectionism and those wanting less. And that’s only the 27% of the population who voted for it. How can May please both sides as well as the 73% of us who didn’t?

  4. I do not understand how the British people can tolerate this totally incompetent, self absorbed and boardering to neonationalism governent. How can this very poor excuse of government be allowed to plunge this great country into the dark ages of hatred,blaming everything on everybody else and total disrespect for real competence and knowledge. Disgraceful and shameful!

  5. I recall Gus O’donnell, former Cabinet Secretary & Head of the Civil Service under Blair Cameron also voicing the view that the Civil Service was not ready for this, in this timescale.

    Civil service is good at policy and general administration what it is much less good at is large scale project/programme administration. Plus the fact that it , and no one on this scale, has ever done this before. They are making many of the mistakes of amateurs; poor planning, poor communication, no risk analysis, no thought to organisational structure (i.e., set up for pol convenience rather than operational effectivenes. et cetera

  6. Now the overpaied underworked mandarins have a real raft if work to occupy em, they bleat on and on and on, do yer bloody job.

  7. George Farmer says:

    We don’t have any government at this moment in time, what we have is anarchy. Their is a small group of politicians who are supposed to be leading us to this calamity however they are all pulling in different directions.
    Since joining the EU our civil service has only had limited experience of negotiation, and that just trying to get even more concessions from the EU. We have the need for a very experienced team of negotiators who have first hand knowledge of EU politics and a government who will listen to them and act upon professional advice.
    I doubt if our present executive could lead a thirsty horse to water let alone carry out the most complex negotiations that leaving the EU needs.
    I notice that only one person is so cowardly as to post as ‘anonymous’ I’ll always back what I say with my name.

  8. Anonymous says:
    January 7, 2017 at 9:22 am
    “Now the overpaied underworked mandarins have a real raft if work to occupy em, they bleat on and on and on, do yer bloody job.”
    What on earth are you babbling about? Did you read the article?

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