Foreign Office Chief Threatens Clive of India Statue

Foreign Office chief Sir Steven McDonald has privately told civil servants that the grand century old Clive of India statue – currently standing between the Foreign Office and the Treasury – “may have to go” in light of the Black Lives Matter pressure building over the last fortnight. Robert Clive secured 200 years of British-Indian rule, in addition to footing the blame for the Bengal Famine that killed ten million Indians…

Confusingly, however, civil service social justice warrior Sir Simon also confirmed ‘offensive’ statues and paintings housed inside the gilded FCO won’t receive the same destructive treatment, and will be staying put. There’s more than a whiff of virtue signalling in his controversial plans…

The confession came last Monday during a Zoom call with civil servants at BEIS, who themselves have been getting into the ‘progressive’ swing of things; with emails to employees being signed off with Black Lives Matter graphics.

BEIS is yet to catch up with the Department for Education, however, who recently gave employees a Black Lives Matter ‘educational playlist’ that included the track “f*ck tha police”…

mdi-timer 15 June 2020 @ 14:00 15 Jun 2020 @ 14:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
EU’s PPE Scheme Fails to Deliver

Late yesterday afternoon was mired in political farce when the FCO boss Simon McDonald suggested that Britain’s decision not to take part in the EU’s PPE procurement scheme was a “political” one, in direct contradiction to the Government’s given explanation of an email communications failure. Hancock immediately denied the claim by McDonald and hours later the top mandarin issued a correction stating he was wrong and it was, after all, not a political decision. The writers of Yes Minister would have rejected such a scenario…

Further confusion lies in Matt Hancock’s claim at yesterday’s press briefing that “We did receive an invitation in the Department of Health and it was put up to me to be asked and we joined so we are now members of that scheme”, however an EU Commission spokesman soon after said the UK is not currently involved in any of the EU’s efforts to buy PPE, though we are “most welcome to participate in future rounds”.

Regardless of the merits of UK non-participation at first in a scheme being run by a foreign political body we are no longer members of, it is on form for the media to portray theoretical participation in the scheme as a land of milk and honey, when weeks on from the start of the crisis, the EU scheme has not delivered a single piece of PPE equipment to a single member state.

Not only are countries like Italy and Spain reaching the end stages of their Coronavirus pandemic having not seen PPE help from the EU, according to the Irish Medical Timeson the 24th March an EU Commission spokesman said, “The equipment should be available two weeks after the Member States sign the contracts with the bidders, which they should do very rapidly,”. If the UK Government missed a deadline this badly, you can be sure the media would be canning them…

mdi-timer 22 April 2020 @ 09:00 22 Apr 2020 @ 09:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
FCO “Crisis No Deal Response”: Go On Holiday

Yesterday’s story about the penny dropping at the FCO that Brexit was really going to happen on October 31 triggered the FCO press office into claiming that they had, of course, been training people on trade policy since 2016.  Unfortunately for the junior press office spinner trying to sell the line that this was just an expansion, Guido’s FCO sources suggest otherwise…

It’s all getting a bit hairy over at the FCO, departments are now being told that more and more staff will have to be deployed – unexpectedly – for Brexit related duties. Many unhappy senior staff are having to decide what they will have to stop doing to compensate for redeployed staff and resources…

Simon McDonald, the FCO’s Permanent-Under-Secretary, has written to staff telling them; “Preparing for a no deal response will become the FCO’s main effort… our EU exit work has to intensify across the FCO.” He goes on to tell them that the FCO Crisis Centre will be coordinating the effort – which tells you all need to know about the FCO’s attitude towards Brexit. Peter Jones, the FCO’s Chief Operating Officer, is coordinating the change in priorities with directors. As if it should not have been the priority since June 2016…

McDonald concludes “Preparing for October is the professional challenge of our lives” before going on to finish his missive “I hope, like me, you manage to take some leave over the summer in preparation for a busy autumn.” No sense of urgency even though a no deal Brexit has belatedly “become the FCO’s main effort”…

mdi-timer 16 August 2019 @ 15:08 16 Aug 2019 @ 15:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Foreign Office Steps Up No Deal Planning

Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff have been sent a memorandum by the Head of the Diplomatic Service Sir Simon McDonald. It reveals that staff will be moved from current roles to work on No Deal from the middle of February. Talented and experienced individuals are being poached to be deployed in EU impact areas. Non EU-Exit work is being ‘delayed, dropped or done differently’…

A co-conspirator has told Guido that Remainer FCO staff are “very down, across the grades” and that morale is low. Apparently the threats to be moved to Brexit duties not going down well with staff…

Stepping up our No Deal planning
Yesterday the FCC’s Executive Committee (ExCo) agreed to intensify our contingency planning to manage a No Deal scenario. This includes working with Directorates to release staff from the ‘20%’ Directorate Crisis Lists for a potential No Deal response from mid-February (the 18th is pencilled in), as well as identifying experienced individuals to be deployed to EU Exit impacted areas outside of the Crisis Centre and to new short-term roles in the Europe network. The latter could require up to 5% of staff.

This will have a significant impact on Directorates so we will need to be rigorous in our prioritisation of non-EU Exit work. Prioritisation guidance for Directors will follow shortly to help them make decisions about what non-EU Exit work to delay, drop or do differently. We will also need to adapt the way we work, including relying more on Posts, devolving decision-making to more junior levels and streamlining central processes.

As part of this work, colleagues in HR Directorate have been looking carefully at what changes they can make to HR policies and processes More detail on this will follow next week.

It looks like the Foreign Office is finally accepting we are leaving. Not only that, they realise it might be on ‘no deal’ terms…

mdi-timer 17 January 2019 @ 11:18 17 Jan 2019 @ 11:18 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Foreign Office’s Top Civil Servant in Spectacular Amritsar Blunder

Simon McDonald is the permanent secretary at the Foreign Office. He is its top civil servant. He thinks the Golden Temple in Amritsar is a mosque. Almost unbelievably, this tweet was up for 10 hours before anyone at the FCO thought to correct it. McDonald grovels: “I was wrong: I am sorry”. Foreign Office gaffes don’t come worse than that…

mdi-timer 24 April 2018 @ 08:59 24 Apr 2018 @ 08:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments