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They know everything.  That is why they were elected to high office. President Trump is not only a high-flying real estate tycoon. He is also a top flight climatologist, superb firefighter, expert military strategist, brilliant constitutional lawyer, intelligence supremo, trade negotiator without equal and peerless economist.

Brexiteer Boris Johnson’s years as a scribe and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s banking experience have clearly made them detailed specialists on every aspect of British life likely to be touched by Brexit , which is—everything.

The knowledge of these men is truly staggering.  They could save British and American taxpayers hundreds of billions of pounds and dollars by dismissing great swathes of civil servants.  It is clear that that those highly paid “experts” at the Bank of England, British Treasury and the Office of National Statistics are at best ill-informed, stupid or just plain dumb. At worst they are “the enemy within” or “enemies of the people.”

As Prime Minister Theresa May continues her whistle-stop round Britain tour to sell her “best deal possible” Brexit plan,  civil servants have been lining up to point out the gaping pitfalls in her plan and the chasms if Britain goes for the no-deal alternative advocated by Jacob, Boris and co.  Every single government department—and a number of independent think tanks—say that Britain will be worse off leaving the EU whichever route is taken. The no-deal plan would shrink the economy by 8-9 percent overnight, slash house prices by 30 percent, cost £100 billion, and collapse the pound by 25 percent.

All of these dire warnings from every quarter of every governmental department have been branded “Project Hysteria,” by the high priest of Brexit Jacob Rees-Mogg.  His acolytes at The Daily Express urged its readers to ignore their paid advisers as “they have been proven wrong time and again.”

Britain has one of the most competent civil services in the world. The world’s oldest civil service is Chinese. It started in the third century BC and became an object of admiration for the British from the 17th century onwards. In 1829 they decided to give it a go in India when the patronage system was replaced by a civil service examination. It was a resounding success and the system was adopted back in Britain in 1854. From there it made its way across the empire and beyond.

The civil service changed government appointments from a basis of who you know and/or how much you were prepared to pay for a position, to an administration based on the then revolutionary idea of finding the best qualified person for the job.  The result was a permanent, unified  and politically neutral cadre of experts whose career depended on their expertise rather than the patronage of a politician.

The system works like this: Every year thousands of people take a civil service exam. If they pass they are offered secure, well-paid positions with good pensions. Over the years they develop a specific expertise in the government department to which they have been assigned and as their knowledge grows so does their salary.

Politicians are elected to office on the basis of their judgement and the policies that they present to the public. They are elected for their political beliefs, not for their expertise in a particular field. Once they are in office they are advised by the civil service on the best way to implement those policies. A big part of the civil servant’s job is to inform the politician—and the wider public—of the consequences of a policy decision. If they do not tell them; if they tailor their reports to suit their political masters, then they have failed.

As for the politicians who ignore them, or condemn their advice? Well, my suggestion is that if they ever need a lifesaving operation– consult the plumber.

Tom Arms is editor of


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