A civil servant at the Home Office has said that his colleagues would “ring the mental health services to check in on my sanity” if he were ever to propose ways of cutting immigration. Here’s an excerpt from his damning, anonymous article in the Telegraph.
Despite our change in boss, when it comes to controlling Britain’s borders nothing will change. I know this because I have worked for some time as a civil servant on immigration policy, and – in my experience – no priority is further from the Home Office in 2023 than stopping the boats or cutting net migration.
For all her strident bearing, Suella was cringingly apologetic in speeches to Home Office staff. Instead of instilling much needed discipline, she would tell us what a great job we were doing, not that this got her any kind of loyalty. She was mocked and insulted by London-based staff furious at the refusal to extend safe routes to an ever growing number of countries.
Home Office officials have a moral and legal duty to do everything in their power to deliver the Government’s priorities on immigration. Political impartiality is a central tenet of the civil service code, but this has morphed into a culture of ‘stewardship’, as our permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft openly admitted in 2021 (when he was recorded telling colleagues there is no need to “slavishly” follow government policy on diversity).
What this means in practice is accepting the bien pensant view that immigration cannot and should not be controlled, overruling the instructions of ministers and thereby their democratic mandates, with many of my colleagues viewing their role as being part of the resistance to what they see as a radical Right-wing Government determined to ignore the rules to punish innocent migrants. This culture of defiance is so widespread that any suggestion of border controls is sneered at or ignored.
There is widespread understanding that our asylum rules are open to abuse. Any Border Force officer or civil servant who works on asylum policy will tell you this openly. Yet any suggestion that asylum rules be tightened or asylum seekers be refused is rejected out of hand as cold-hearted evil.
If I were to walk into a meeting and suggest reducing migration or ask how we could immediately deport small boat arrivals or foreign criminals, my colleagues might think to ring the many mental health services we are provided to check in on my sanity.
Even the most moderate attempts to do anything about migration are met internally as either unreasonable or not legally possible, with discussion being stopped dead by allusion to ‘international law’.
Instead of dealing with the national crises facing Britain, including record legal and illegal migration, endless time is wasted. Senior staff hold events on Black History Month, Windrush and microaggressions. We are told to attend quarterly ‘away days’ (held online usually, most of us are in the office just one day a week) where we are given prizes and are told by senior civil servants just how wrong any political or press criticism of our work is. In meetings nominally discussing policy, we are forced to listen to HR directors give lectures on diversity and hand out awards about inclusivity. We are patronised and treated like children.
Worth reading in full.
It’s just further evidence of how desperately needed civil service reform is, moving away from the delusional model of a ‘neutral’ civil service to an explicitly political one like in the U.S., where the heads of Government departments and agencies are political appointments under the direct control of the Government. But you can put that down as yet another opportunity never grasped by the Tories these past 13 years, leaving the Blob to run rings around them.