Peter Hoskin

Will the civil service block Tory Euroscepticism?

Will the civil service block Tory Euroscepticism?
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Of all the countless leaflets, pamphlets and circulars being handed out in Manchester, one of the most interesting is a glossy collection of essays entitled Cameron's Britain.  It has been put together by the folk at Portland PR - who recently hosted that "war game" which James reported back on - and has entries on everything from the NHS to tackling global poverty.

As it doesn't seem to be online, I figured it's worth quoting from one of the most insightful essays of the bunch: that by Steve Morris, a former Downing St adviser, on the Whitehall machinery that the next government will have to get to grips with.  Norris makes some important points - e.g. that special advisers can be a force for good, and that "sofa government" has its place - but these two paragraphs rather jumped out at me:

"...the Conservative approach to Europe is already a major concern around Whitehall, where many have painful memories of John Major's Beef War and the infamous "non-co-operation" policy.

EU policy affects not only the FCO, where diplomats are already agonising over how to create negotiable policy positions from Cameron's statements. Virtually every department has its own EU obligations, and officials will strongly advise ministers against breaking them. Whitehall shudders at the prospect of a slippery slope of infraction proceedings and worsening relations with other Member States. Expect this to be a significant headache for the Conservatives in government."

It does make you wonder whether the Tories would actually be able to "not let matters rest there".

UPDATE: The Portland booklet is now online.  You can access it here.