Munguin wishes David Davis the very ‘best of British’ when he goes to Brussels to start talks on Monday with his brand new team who have in the job only a few days and are still looking about to see where the canteen is. He doesn’t, however, hold out much in the way of hope that it will be anything other than a complete catastrophe. In the article below what was already a seriously bad situation appears to have become catastrophic
(From the FT: June 13.
I’ve copied this from the FT (without permission) because some people don’t seem to be able to access their articles. I know there’s a payway, but I don;t pay and yet seem able to get in. Weird!
The UK’s Brexit department has seen two of its four ministers depart this week, just days before negotiations with the EU are due to start, in a sign of mounting tensions between Downing Street and the ministry’s leadership.
David Jones, who led the Welsh arm of the Vote Leave campaign ahead of last June’s referendum, was sacked on Monday night and replaced by Joyce Anelay, a Foreign Office veteran who campaigned to remain in the EU. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, was not warned.
George Bridges, who was in charge of pushing Brexit legislation through parliament, quit on Tuesday after falling out with Theresa May, the prime minister.
According to people close to Lord Bridges, an EU advocate, he had become frustrated with the lack of consultation between Downing Street and the Department for Exiting the EU (Dexeu).
“Bridges is said to have quit on policy grounds, convinced Brexit couldn’t work,” said one Whitehall figure. “There is some disarray.”
Even after the departure of Mrs May’s key aides after the election, Lord Bridges continued to be “unhappy with how things were going,” the Whitehall figure said. The challenge of taking a slew of Brexit-related legislation through a hung parliament in the coming two years was also daunting, his allies added.
Lord Bridges was replaced on Tuesday by Steve Baker, who headed the contingent of pro-Leave Conservative MPs during the Brexit campaign.
Officials tried to shrug off the news, with one saying that little should be read into the loss of some “junior ministers”. A Brexit department spokesman said it was “nonsense to suggest that the Department for Exiting the European Union is not ready for the start of negotiations”.
But Jill Rutter, programme director at the Institute for Government, described the personnel changes as deeply undesirable.
“This is absolutely the time when Dexeu needs to get moving, both with a major raft of legislation in parliament and the start of the Brexit negotiations. The departure of both ministers basically makes what was a difficult task even more difficult.”
Before the latest departures, Dexeu had already been hit by the exit of James Chapman, special adviser to David Davis, the Brexit secretary, who left Whitehall for the private sector. Mr Davis lost another key ally, his parliamentary private secretary Stewart Jackson, who lost his seat in the election.
Elsewhere, Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who was put in charge of overseeing Brexit’s impact on financial services in March, also abruptly departed on Tuesday.
Dominic Cummings, the mastermind of last year’s successful Leave campaign, said the departures were just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Bridges is said to have quit on policy grounds, convinced Brexit couldn’t work . . . There is some disarray
“Top Whitehall officials are screaming that DEXU [sic] under [cabinet secretary Jeremy] Heywood and DD [David Davis] is total shambles & disaster likely,” he said on Twitter. “If Leave MPs don’t assert themselves to force management changes on Number 10 and DEXU Brexit talks = guaranteed debacle.”
The two new ministers will have only days to get up to speed with a host of different responsibilities.
Barry Gardiner, shadow trade secretary, said the government should slow down and take stock. “This sort of turnover of ministers and senior advisers that the department has seen poses the question of how on earth, a week after the general election, the government can be ready with a new team in place to take the negotiations forward.”
It is the departure of Lord Bridges — voluntarily — which sheds the most light on the tumult inside Dexeu. He was responsible for taking the Article 50 legislation through the House of Lords and was effectively responsible for the fine details of the Great Repeal Bill.
A former adviser to John Major, he ran the Tory research department in the 2000s and became a peer in 2015. Before becoming a minister last year he ran a lobbying firm and was an adviser to Ana Botin, group chairman of Banco Santander. His close allies include George Osborne, former chancellor, and Lord Hill, the former EU commissioner.
“George had a gruelling and difficult job getting the Article 50 bill through the Lords, the upper house is pretty much uncontrollable at the moment,” said one ally.
Lord Bridges could take his recent experience back into the private sector, the person suggested.