Brexit: education and health spending rerouted to fishing and farming

“Cabinet ministers are being told that some of their most prized projects cannot be developed because so many officials have been diverted to delivering Brexit, it has emerged.

Ministers’ priority programmes have fallen victim to “re-prioritisation”, according to internal government warnings seen by the Observer.

Government insiders said they knew of examples of officials usually dealing with schools and hospitals who were now redeployed to work on farming and fishing as a result of the scramble to prepare for all Brexit outcomes, including no deal. “It’s a real worry now that things are being held up and not happening,” said one senior Whitehall source. “We are really starting to see it as the Brexit process drags on and on.”

A memo to a senior minister, said: “In the context of ongoing cross-government re-prioritisation exercises, departments have not yet been able to resource the necessary cross-government team to deliver the work.”

The government’s plans for resolving the crisis in social care and a review of university finance are among the major policy proposals that are said to have been held up by Brexit, while many other areas have suffered due to the lack of parliamentary time and political instability. …”

“Baffled town halls ordered to plan for Brexit ‘without knowing what it is’ “

“With 43 days left on the clock, local authorities have been told to prepare for March 29.

Government incompetence is causing ‘chaos’ within councils that have been ordered to plan for Brexit, a town hall boss has warned.

Stockport council leader Alex Ganotis said local authorities had been told to prepare for leaving the EU in less than 50 days ‘without telling us what to plan for’.

He was speaking at the latest meeting of the combined authority, at which Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese said huge anxiety remains among businesses in the region over what happens when Britain leaves.

While Greater Manchester had been doing its best to prepare, he said, ‘it’s not a happy story at the moment by any stretch of the imagination’.

Local leaders were meeting with just 43 days left on the clock before March 29 and no clear plan in Westminster about what will happen.

Coun Ganotis said government had been very clear that councils were expected to plan, however, just not what they were planning for.

“There are six weeks left until we are due to leave the EU and the government clearly has no plan over crucial, crucial areas of the way this country is run and the way this country works,” he said.

“And yet they are being very clear with local authorities that local authorities need to plan for Brexit.

“We need to make sure our council supports our communities after Brexit, but without telling us what to plan for, exactly what resources will be required, and exactly what the impact will be on our areas.

“We as councils have to take our responsibilities to residents seriously – and in a way that this government is not taking its responsibilities towards British citizens seriously, because it’s in hoc to a group of fanatics that do not care about ordinary people and the way they go about their lives.”

Reeling off a list of potential issues faced by councils, he said government had announced a funding package for town halls, but that it was ‘far, far less’ than would be needed.

“So we are going to have to find funding within our own councils that we would have otherwise put to other uses in terms of frontline services to provide for and fund Brexit,” he said.

“But in terms of what exactly we do, we still don’t know.

“Areas around staffing – local authority staffing, staffing of our contracted services, of care workers are a very good example of that.

“Civil resilience, our regulatory responsibilities, especially in term of product regulation, the services we provide to people from EU countries who don’t know where they will stand, the support we provide for people in terms of employment, as well as keeping things going in the event of Brexit.

“We are going to have to plan for all of this as local authorities and it’s causing chaos.

“And I think the government needs to understand the hypocrisy of what they are putting on local authorities.”

Greater Manchester leaders have been receiving regular updates since June 2016 about the potential effects Brexit is having – or will have – on the local economy, including local efforts to support businesses worried about the impact.

The government has refused to share its exact economic impact assessment for the area, however, with councils instead drawing up their own – suggesting more than £8bn could be wiped off the conurbation’s economy in the next 15 years in the event of a no deal.

Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese, who is in charge of economic issues for the region, said the current picture was bleak.

“It goes without saying that at a time when the performance of the economy is at its lowest point since the recession, there’s an enormous amount of anxiety amongst businesses and still a lot of concern about a lack of preparedness in business even though we are now days rather than months away from March 29,” he said.

Pointing to Greater Manchester’s 60,000 EU citizens, he said the potential effects could be particularly problematic for ‘sensitive’ areas such as the NHS that rely upon them for staffing.

However planes would not be grounded, he said, as Manchester Airport had plans in place for flights to continue even in the event of a no-deal.

But he added: “I’ve come to dread this item, to be honest.

“As someone who’s been in active politics for most of my adult life, I have to confess I’m now completely confused as to how our parliamentary democracy – how representative government works.

“If any of the leaders around this council chamber at the moment, if we were to ignore our councils in the way the PM ignores parliament we wouldn’t last five minutes.

“I tend to wonder what parliament is for, because they keep passing votes and the PM keeps saying ‘I’m right, I’m going to ignore them’.

“But underpinning that is that at the moment, whatever your views on Brexit – it doesn’t matter whether you’re for or against – we are at the moment rushing headlong to at least a short term disaster, which is the risk of a disorderly no deal exit from the EU.”

Public services: cut, slash, burn, destroy after Brexit

Brexit just a useful excuse.

“… In his annual budget in November, Hammond loosened the government’s purse-strings, giving support to the economy as it slowed ahead of Brexit. However, rising healthcare spending leaves little spare for other public services, the IFS said.

“This suggests yet more years of austerity for many public services — albeit at a much slower pace than the last nine years,” IFS research economist Ben Zaranko said.

Public services outside of health, defence and overseas aid saw budgets fall by an average of 3 percent a year in real terms after 2010, and now look set for declines of 0.4 percent a year in inflation-adjusted terms going forward, the IFS predicts.

“The (finance minister) has said that the Spending Review will take place in 2019, and that is the right moment for government to make long term funding decisions,” a spokesman from the finance ministry said in a statement.

“Outside the (health service), total day to day departmental spending is now set to grow in line with inflation, and public investment will reach levels not sustained in 40 years in this parliament.”

Due largely to the global financial crisis, Britain’s budget deficit peaked at nearly 10 percent of gross domestic product in 2009/10 — one of the highest in the world at the time — but is roughly on track to drop to 1.2 percent this year. …”

Shipping company with no ships, no backer and the wrong kind of port for the ships they don’t have!

Owl can only assume, after May says she has confidence in “Failing Grayling” yet again today that he must have some Theresa May selfies in his possession …..

” … Grayling is under further pressure to explain how Seaborne was awarded the contract after weekend reports that Ramsgate authorities could not afford to run the port.

The contract was cancelled a day after Grayling contacted Thanet district council to ask it to postpone a budget that would have shut down parts of the port for use by freight shipping.

Questions remain about the viability of Ramsgate’s port for use post-Brexit. It can accommodate ships up to 180 metres long, but modern ships are typically 230-250 metres.

John Davis, a member of the Ramsgate Action Group, said: “You can’t run a double-decker bus service out of a single-storey garage on the side of a bungalow – that’s the problem.”

Questions remain about the procurement process after the DfT relied on an emergency exemption provided for by the Public Contract Regulations Act to award the contract. Eurotunnel has accused the government of “anti-competitive” and “distortionary” behaviour.

Meanwhile, Grayling’s decision to award contracts to three ferry companies, including Seaborne is being challenged at the high court. Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel, says the contracts totalling £108m were awarded through a “secretive and flawed procurement process”. But the Department for Transport (DfT) argues that the “extreme urgency” of preparations for Britain’s departure from the EU on 29 March justified the process.

At a hearing in London on Monday, Eurotunnel’s barrister Daniel Beard QC said the procurement process for “additional capacity for transport of goods across the English Channel” had been “undertaken without any public notice being issued”.”

Government contract with no ships ferry company terminate

Owl says: Another astounding example of “Failing Grayling” ineptitude. After screwing up Work and Pensions and Justice he was let loose on transport. He’s obviously in line for next Brexit Minister (unless Swire gets there first).

“A controversial ferry contract awarded to a firm with no ships as part of no-deal Brexit plans has been scrapped by the Department for Transport.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s decision to award Seaborne Freight a contract worth £13.8 million had attracted widespread criticism.

The department said it had decided to terminate the contract after the company’s Irish backer, Arklow Shipping, pulled out of the deal.

A DfT spokeswoman said: “Following the decision of Seaborne Freight’s backer, Arklow Shipping, to step back from the deal, it became clear Seaborne would not reach its contractual requirements with the Government. We have therefore decided to terminate our agreement.

“The Government is already in advanced talks with a number of companies to secure additional freight capacity – including through the port of Ramsgate – in the event of a no-deal Brexit.” “

UK-US trade deal: the gift that keeps on taking

“Preparations for a no-deal Brexit are intensifying in London, Dublin and Brussels.

We report today on 30 of 130 demands from American lobbyists from any future UK-US trade deal.

We all know about chlorinated chicken, but corporates have also asked to US Department of Trade for changes in NHS drug rules, weaker data protection, carcinogens in pistachio nuts, lowering food safety standards and fresh ways to sue the British government.

It’s quite a wish-list.”

Source: The Waugh Zone, 8 February, Huffington Post

“Council Cuts Could Wreck Chris Grayling’s No-Deal Brexit Ferry Plan”

“Chris Grayling’s plan to run no-deal Brexit ferries from Ramsgate is in danger of collapsing if the local council approves swingeing budget cuts to the port, a senior Whitehall source has admitted.

The transport secretary handed Seaborne Freight, a company with no ships, a £13.8m contract to lay on Channel crossings to relieve pressure on Dover if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on March 29.

But Thanet District Council is planning cuts of £730,000 to the port of Ramsgate, amid severe funding pressures.

If councillors approve the budget on Thursday night it would put the entire Seaborne venture “at risk”, the source told HuffPost UK.

The revelation prompted Labour to accuse Grayling of “incompetence on an epic scale”.

The transport secretary has already faced fierce criticism for giving the contract to Seaborne, a company which last month admitted error after apparently copying and pasting the terms and conditions section of its website from a takeaway delivery outlet.

The mayor of Ostend, at the Belgian end of the planned crossing, has also said it would be impossible to have a new service up and running by the end of March.

But the Department for Transport (DfT) said it continues to have “conversations” with the council, among other organisations, “over any plans to re-establish ferry services at the port of Ramsgate”.

The Ramsgate Action Group, which has been campaigning against the Seaborne plan, said it was now “dead in the water” unless the DfT steps in. …”