Public Servants understand minutiae, but are ministers listening?

There is a view that the civil service, hollowed out by cuts and deskilled by dependence on the EU bureaucracy, is not up to the job of Brexit. That’s very far from the truth, Lewis Silkin chair Michael Burd notes at the Gazette’s roundtable (page 13). 

In his engagement with Whitehall, Burd is ‘struck by the sheer dedication, commitment and professionalism of the British civil service’. Public servants have ‘developed incredible understanding of some of the intricacies of what’s involved here’.

Later the same day, Lady Justice Gloster was in reassuring mood on Brexit. There was, she told a City audience at law firm HFW, a ‘consensus’ around sensible things that needed to happen to keep England and Wales law, and London, at the heart of international business contracts and disputes.

Do sensible things, and the reliability of the common law, superintended by a judiciary of integrity and independence, will keep the world’s skilled professionals, capital and disputes coming here. The Law Society, Bar Council, law firms and academics have suggested agreements to reach; regulations to adopt; and conventions to ratify.

So far, so good. But Burd sounds a ringing note of caution: ‘When you get to the ministerial level, there’s often a complete disconnect… an ability not to hear what they don’t wish to hear.’ That would seem to be why many in the legal profession report they are planning for a ‘worst-case scenario’.