Members of ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm Deloittes may be waking up to an uncomfortable truth about their friends in the Conservative Government today (November 15) – that a Tory will turn on anyone.
The firm has spent six years helping the Conservatives push their punitive agenda of cuts and privatisation but – after a memo on ‘Brexit’ was leaked to the press – suddenly the Tories don’t recognise Deloittes’ work.
This is despite the apparent fact that the consultant from the firm who wrote the report (titled ‘Brexit update’) was working for the Cabinet Office, according to The Times.
The memo said Whitehall departments were working on more than 500 projects related to leaving the EU and may need to hire an extra 30,000 civil servants to deal with the additional work. That would undo much of the Tories’ work in shrinking the civil service, of course.
It identified a tendency by Theresa May to “draw in decisions and settle matters herself” as a strategy that could not be sustained, and highlighted a split between the three Brexit ministers – Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and David Davis – and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and his ally Greg Clark, the business secretary as “divisions within the cabinet”. So the Conservative Party is divided again – and we know that divided parties don’t win.
It said major industry players were expected to “point a gun to the government’s head” to get what they wanted after Nissan was given assurances that it would not lose out from investing in Britain after Brexit. We all knew this already.
Perhaps most damningly, it stated that “no common strategy has emerged” on Brexit, despite extended debate among the permanent secretaries who head Whitehall departments.
This is not what the Conservatives want the public to hear, so of course they have disowned the memo, claiming it was “unsolicited”, was not a government memo and the government rejected its contents. They would, wouldn’t they?
The government also tried to smear the memo’s authors by claiming it was a pitch for business – but then, government departments habitually ask firms to submit such work, so this is not proof that the memo was not requested by ministers.
The fact that it fell to Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling – the Transport Secretary – to pass these comments lends them no authenticity whatsoever.
David Davis is the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – what does he have to say about it? Nothing.
Grayling said he had no idea where the report came from and denied that it had been commissioned by ministers. But then, what would he know about it? He’s the Transport Secretary.
His comments – like “I have a team of people in my department who are working with David Davis on issues like aviation, but I do not see the scale of the challenge that is in today’s newspaper” – are those of a man who is only seeing part of the project, rather than the whole.
Meanwhile, in her Mansion House speech, prime minister Theresa May told an audience of dozing businesspeople that Brexit was an opportunity for the UK to “step up” to a new “global role”.
As what? The world’s clown?
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