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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Could senior civil servants quit over Brexit tensions?

As if the loss of Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK's ambassador to the EU was not bad enough, the Guardian reports that the dysfunctional nature of Theresa May's government and the hostility being shown towards 'experts' by some elements in the Tory Party is having a wider impact.

They say that some senior civil servants who are disillusioned over preparations for Brexit are considering stepping down from their positions amid growing tensions with Downing Street.

They quote sources as saying that some of Whitehall’s top officials are “gravely concerned” by the treatment of Sir Ivan Rogers as well as mounting problems over preparations to leave the EU:

It comes after former Conservative ministers questioned the impartiality of Rogers and the wider civil service, as Number 10 and the foreign office declined to comment.

The appointment of Sir Tim Barrow as Rogers’s replacement on Wednesday night is unlikely to mask the wider strains between some mandarins and some ministers over Britain’s plans to trigger article 50 by the end of March.

Complaints from mandarins include that May’s office has centralised control, lacks communication skills, and has been too quick to adopt a confrontational style with those offering independent advice.

Whitehall sources said senior civil servants from several departments are considering stepping down from their positions. However, it is “too soon” to say whether this is part of a one-off exodus of talent or part of a cyclical loss of staff, one source added.

It is hard to believe that the government could mess this up any more but they are clearly trying hard to do so.
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