back to article Oh good, half of Defra's Brexit projects involve IT

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) poor track record on IT puts the department at high risk in decoupling its systems from Europe, the chair of the government’s spending watchdog has warned today. According to the National Audit Office, Defra is one of the departments most affected by the EU Exit. …

  1. andyp-random-number

    Standard systems...

    I really don't understand why huge bodies such as government etc have to have propriety style systems. Surely they are just dealing with data, documents and communications? Everything is referenced with a number. No matter what changes surely the type of data, documents and communications remain fundamentally the same after any change?

    Why can't one system be designed so that when things change the overall hardware and software and indeed the way they are used remain the same?

    Surely there just shouldn't be these problems?

    Standards, software methods, hardware etc have all been designed for years to be interchangeable and compatible so why does no one use these methods?

    The world changes and companies like google et al seem to cope. Laws change, competitors arrive, new technology happens and large companies continue upwards, onwards and making more profit, becoming more efficient without obvious problems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standard systems...

      Yes. But our system is more of a programming framework with a workflow to our needs that we initially bought off the shelf and then customised so we could do the job more efficiently. They have a system that is hard coded for their job in C# by external providers.

      As a result, in our enviroment when changes come in we sketch a new process out on the existing documentation workflow, everybody agrees that it's correct, a test branch goes in and people use it once to ensure that it does what they thought they were asking for, and when they agree then we put it live. This typically takes us a couple of hours, because that's how long it needs to take.

      In government IT going by the Price2 method they worship they'd be first having a change management meeting to

      - Agree whether or not there is sufficient justification to proceed with the project

      - Establish a stable management basis on which to proceed

      - Document and confirm that an acceptable Business Case exists for the project

      - Ensure a firm and accepted Foundation to the project prior to commencement of the work

      - Agree to the commitment of resources for the first stage of the project

      - Enable and encourage the Project Board to take ownership of the project

      - Provide the baseline for the decision-making processes required during the project's life

      - Ensure that the investment of time and effort required by the project is made wisely, taking account of the risks to the project.

      After this then the project board needs need to appoint a project manager with correct terms of reference, who needs to appoint change managers in each of the affected areas to explore the impact on affected individuals etc. When they get to the next program phase and have everything firmly specced then they can consider putting the programming work out to tender.

      To put this into perspective, before they have had their first meeting to decide if they have justification to have a change management project, we've scribbled on our existing workflow documentation with the changes that are required by the new legislation, other managers have added a few new scribbles and crossed out others where they figure "if you do this here then you can save a step later here" and finally we draw it out again minus all of the crossed out bits, most people agree that's the way to go (except the guy that gets the acidic comments from legal about "yes, doing it that way would be easier, but it's also breaking the law"...!) and have programmed the changes up in test.

      This then gets "tested" by overly harried staff who don't really care and just sign it off regardless, and then gets put into production and tweaked slightly a few months down the line when somebody realises that you could trim a step off by ammending an earlier form. Afterwards we sort out the pretty flow diagrams for the documentation for doing it again next time.

      I suppose you could call this agile development if you squint at how we go about ignoring most project management essentials. We just call it quick and effective, because it wastes less of everybodies time.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Standard systems...

        "going by the Price2 method they worship"

        The official name is Prince 2 but Price squared sounds closer to reality.

        1. Reg Whitepaper

          Re: Standard systems...

          > "The official name is Prince 2"

          Umm, PRINCE2

          http://prince2.wiki/PRINCE2

          1. macjules Silver badge

            Re: Standard systems...

            Doesn't matter what you call it. Trust me on this, none of them have PRINCE2 qualifications, A couple might have a handful of CPD points and I am pretty sure at least one PM in GDS knows what a scrum is outside of rugby. The rest probably know what a laptop looks like, how to switch it on and how to start Word or Excel (major plus point in the civil service). Ask any DEFRA wonk what JIra is and they will tell you "We tried that and went back to post-it notes on a board".

            Oh, and for some reason they really love Scrumwise. Used to be Flash postit notes, but now finally in HTML5, which they can drag and drop, just like the real thing.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Standard systems...

          Pity they don't ignore the price in favour of value.

          But then again, when you're <expletive deleted> unaccountable, why bother?

      2. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Re: Standard systems...

        And all overseen by a number of civil servants with not a technical bone in their body.

        Who, when the shit hits the fan, will move elsewhere to bring their special magic.

    2. SVV Silver badge

      Re: Standard systems...

      "No matter what changes surely the type of data, documents and communications remain fundamentally the same after any change?"

      For very specific, rule-based systems such as defra subsidies, there really is no such thing as a "standard system". I imagine that when the amount of subsidy per sheep changes, the system will allow you to enter in a new amount so that it all gets handled without fuss. To then take this further and claim that ANY sort of change need not affect software systems is wishful thinking. New rules emerge, procedures change, and the software and databases will have to change to accomodate them. This is the day to day work of software departments at the big successful companies you refer to.

      "Why can't one system be designed so that when things change the overall hardware and software and indeed the way they are used remain the same?"

      When things change, the systems that administer them cannot stay the same. If I get your argument, you seem to be implying that systems should be so generic that ANY change or new requirement will not require any change to the software, and these things should all be planned for when building the initial system, which will then allow any possible reconfiguration or implementation of a new requirement in the future within that system. That way lies madness and project failure

      Personally, I think that the promises being made to keep many things roughly the same after brexit are being heavily influenced by the realisation that diverging from all the existing rules will require massive and expensive changes to a great number of IT systems.

    3. Tom Samplonius

      Re: Standard systems...

      "The world changes and companies like google et al seem to cope."

      The big advantage Google has, is that all of their line-of-business systems were developed in-house, and they have fully staffed teams to maintain and extend them. In fact, Google pretty much wrote all of their code. Billions of lines. There is a lot of open source stuff in there too, of course.

      Gov'ts for the most part have various off-the-shelf and custom solutions provided by third party developers. Use of open-source is the exception, and probably just used for Internet facing applications. Gov'ts typically can't modify their own systems.

  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Guess the response

    “Defra’s track record of failure in implementing a new system of farm subsidy payments, which the Committee examined in 2016 and 2017, hardly fills me with confidence in its ability to replace EU programmes with home-grown successors.”

    Guess the government's likely response. Will it be a or b?

    a) Ensure that scoping is completed soon and is not overridden by later policy changes, then invest in sufficient resources to ensure that all work streams can be developed, tested and implemented in time, fully communicating any procedural changes and data requirements to guarantee that farmers can complete their submissions and applications on schedule to avoid bankruptcy.

    b) Abandon the promise to continue paying subsidies at EU level.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Guess the response

      As the recent agreement with the EU indicated, and as I'm sure the terms of the transitional arrangement will enshrine, the UK is likely to adopt BINO (in name only). The lack of noise from the Tory backbenchers tells us that considerable pressure is being applied.

      1. Champ

        Re: Guess the response

        > the UK is likely to adopt BINO (in name only)

        God let's hope so

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see why people are worried.

    Our Defra strategy for brexit will be taking the cow to the EU market and getting magic beans. It worked for Jack.

    1. Disgruntled of TW
      Joke

      Already spending the magic beans ...

      ... on HS2. None left. Only weeds.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Our Defra strategy for brexit will be taking the cow to the EU market and getting magic beans. It worked for Jack.

      FTFY

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's a good strategy but lets not milk it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RPA

    I was dragged into the RPA once to talk about how they could automate a process. After doing some 'discovery' I found that they already had a system that was perfectly capable of doing what they needed with only minimal outlay for some configuration. Of course nobody was interested, all they wanted to know is if they spent £1M now, they could 'save' £1M over 3 years. I was agog.

    The only thing that stopped this stupidity was a sudden clamp down in any spending that happened towards the end of the last decade......

  5. FlatSpot
    Pint

    Who cares

    It will be like the millennium bug all over again, nice pay, good bonuses, resulting in tax revenue. Win all round, happy days

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Pint

      with a small exception

      That people knew more than 2 years in advance that 2000AD was coming and they didn't need to build any new functionality, just to patch the date handling on stuff already there.

      Pints all round because everyone loves watching a disaster on TV

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: with a small exception

        "just to patch the date handling on stuff already there."

        In some cases it was also a good time to refresh systems. Some commercial products didn't provide updates for older kit. But yes, basically straightforward, required only time and money.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: with a small exception

        That people knew more than 2 years in advance that 2000AD was coming...

        Honestly, anyone who didn't see Brexit coming years ago clearly wasn't paying attention while the country was voting in more and more UKIP MEPs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: with a small exception

          Re: "the country was voting in more and more UKIP MEPs."

          Yeah, they were counting on the fact that first past the post system would thwart actual democracy.

          MPs won the battle but lost the war. But they've recovered quickly and now they're working out how to divide the spoils (amongst themselves).

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Who cares

      "It will be like the millennium bug all over again, nice pay, good bonuses, resulting in tax revenue."

      Except that the Millennium bug was fixed. Apart, that is, from the odd numpty business who insisted on running their old system into January because "year end"; that was - interesting. I reckon this is going to be a lot more interesting.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Remember the howls of anger when it took a few weeks to go to court to establish the correct legal process to pull the trigger and how this was delaying "the will of the people"? It's becoming increasingly clear that the lead time to accomplish this is stupidity should have been years just to work out what's needed.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      @ Doctor Syntax

      It was clear at the time it was going to be horrendously complex and need lots of work (& that it was a nose / face spite scenario).

      Given we have a governing (I use that word loosely!) party full of BS merchants but very few with a clue then its going to end really badly for everyone (except the rich as we steam ahead to low wage tax haven state)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @disgustedoftunbridgewells

        I used to work for a company that bid for a govt contract.

        They already had a product used by many customers that ticked all the requirements of the tender - just needed data convert / import, and that was easy as I did proof of concept on that using a (non sensitive) set of sample data they provided. They then were able to try our product using their sample data.

        Their bid was by far the cheapest, and only one where product already existed with all the functionality needed.

        Our sales person was later told we did not get the contract as our bid was far too low (even though it was pitched so we would have made a very nice profit)

        Whether that was the only reason I do not know (sales team did not give out backhanders, did not take people on lavish hospitality days out, did not offer directorships a few years down the line etc. - who knows if that negatively impacted our prospects)

        Something was rotten in some areas of gov IT procurement, I would not be surprised if it still is.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      It's becoming increasingly clear that the lead time to accomplish this is stupidity should have been years just to work out what's needed.

      The CAP has been around since 1962, if government IT systems still haven't got that figured out what makes you think even 50 years would have been enough? This is a government IT incompetence problem, not a Brexit one

      1. Gerard Krupa

        CAP is not all that "Common" since individual states have a lot of leeway in interpreting and reinterpreting the rules (even between the devolved UK governments, each of which has its own system) plus incorporating their own regional schemes. The EU also periodically revamp all of the rules and payment calculations - a process known as CAP Reform that has already occurred three times and is due to happen again in 2020.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        This is a government IT incompetence problem, not a Brexit one

        Ooh, a nice example of cognitive dissonance! Government incompetence extends from IT systems across all other areas of government including negotiating to leave the UK. David Davis recent admission that little or no impact studies had been done, because knowing whether the IT systems could cope or not was obviouslay not necessary.

  7. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    It's on my todo list to eventually bid for one of these government IT contracts, deliver on time, on ( massively inflated ) budget and get made Prime Minister, Chancellor and King as a reward for the first person to successfully to put a basic CRUD interface on an SQL database through a government IT contract.

    Seriously though, can somebody in the know tell me why government find IT contracts so hard? I'm not buying the "they're useless" line, as it applies to every body of every government. There's clearly a structural problem. What is it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Government have to be open about failures. I've worked on projects in the charitable and private sectors that failed, but there's less need to let anyone know.

    2. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Holmes

      There's clearly a structural problem. What is it?

      They are not spending their money, they are spending yours, so, they either go to the mates, Crapita, or for the highest bidder of dosh-filled tax haven bank accounts....

      There is no way it could be anything else ... if you count it up, most of these projects could be done in-house, at a tiny fraction of the cost .... however, for some reason, the original asking price is frequently 5 to 6 times what it would cost in-house and the price at delivery is often 2 to ten times higher ... that money has to go somewhere ... they always favor lock-in, sure, not their money, but ... why is lockin so important ? Keeping the bribes flowing back over the years ... into the aforementioned offshore accounts!

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Holmes

        I should add that sometimes, we are not even informed of the price ... wonder why ?

  8. DaveTheForensicAnalyst

    Since HM Treasury / HMRC are so convinced on pushing IR35, chances are Gov won't find anyone willing to do the work anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      chances are Gov won't find anyone willing to do the work anyway

      Oh, it is soooooooooo much worse than that.

      Private industry (that's all those poor sods who didn't want Brexit anyway) will simply increase the rates for contractors and price the UK government out of the market. You might style it as "revenge of the remainers". And when I say private industry, I mean people like Tim Wetherspoon and James Dyson. Because despite all their loudmouth fuckwittery in public, you can bet your ass they are going to make sure *they* are alright. Jack.

      The only solution would be to bring in lots of non-EU (India, Pakistan) developers. You could try to get some more (white) EU developers, but currently the UK is toxic for EU recruitment.

      Meanwhile, I've been asked for proof of my non-UK EU citizenship twice by US firms who won't hire UK-only staff at the moment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: chances are Gov won't find anyone willing to do the work anyway

        "The only solution would be to bring in lots of non-EU (India, Pakistan) developers. "

        Government minister Priti Patel conducted her "Leave" campaign on the explicit promise of replacing EU immigrants with more from the Indian subcontinent.

        It is already becoming clear that the post-Brexit trade deals with the Indian government will need a quid pro quo of increased access to jobs in the UK - for at least their professional people. The Australian government have said the same thing. Basically they are saying "you can't have your cake and eat it".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A farmer was telling his MP why he voted Leave.

    It was because the EU body "DEFRA" was slow in making his EU subsidy payments. The MP then pointed out that DEFRA was a UK government body - and had been fined by the EU for its slow delivery of subsidies to British farmers. That was news to him.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      FAIL

      RE: That was news to him.

      When Hitler commissioned "Triumph of the Will" (which is surely begging an internet version: Triumph of the Will of the People) he noted that the British as a race were tended towards ignorance and easily swayed by feeling over reason.

      I know that's a Godwinism.

      But it's true.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: RE: That was news to him.

        Godwin's law doesn't apply when you're talking about actualy NAZIs.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RE: That was news to him.

        "[...] he noted that the British as a race were tended towards ignorance and easily swayed by feeling over reason."

        True of most countries - as he himself proved in Germany. The whole regime was based on emotional manipulation and propaganda. It's a basic human trait - if you tap it correctly.

  10. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Windows

    Interesting comments - motivation

    At lest two examples of a simple, cost effective solution which was rejected for a higher priced option. Illogical, Shirley?

    Well, let us look at motivation for a moment.

    In a small to medium private enterprise cost savings and fast effective delivery can directly and obviously impact on the bottom line and can even lead to a bonus plus the rise in value of stock and stock options.

    Consider your Government project lead with two options:

    (1) You already have the capability, we can have you up and running on the new system in 3-6 months at minimal cost and a quarter of your projected budget.

    (2) {sucks teeth} Blimey, this is a tricky one. Who sold you that system? We are going to have to rip it out, replace the hardware, phased implementation, only provide a skeleton specification for the first phase. You will have to quadruple your budget, double the size of your project team, this is going to take years and could grow even larger once we scope Phase 2. Don't worry we can help you write the business case.

    Project lead hears underspend and no work for second half of the year, budget and staffing cuts for next FY or massive increase in staffing and budget (almost certain promotion) plus a guaranteed job for the next 5 years. Oh, and bigger pension.

    Tricky choice, huh?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sir Humphry is in charge.

    And at the same time DEFRA is getting shiny new IT systems and suppliers, what could possibly go wrong?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/07/07/defra_prolongs_si_addiction/

  12. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    Then they will have to get the IT projects done or ditch them. If they cannot make the projects work then the project will probably need simplifying to something reasonable and doable by them. Its amazing how having less overhead and more freedom is somehow more difficult to implement.

  13. Am I Consing Yet?

    Future-proofing is designed out

    Years ago I was invited to sit in on a design review meeting in one of those IT companies that specialises in UK public sector projects. I didn't work for them, but was doing some consulting for them at the time.

    A little embarrassed, I kept pointing out obvious future-proofing steps they could take with their design, so that delivery of v2 would be much cheaper. You know, the kind of things that private-sector projects do all the time. They had some smart people, but they were just not interested in my suggestions. Then in a coffee-break, one of them explained why...

    1. By the time the system is live there could be a different government, with a different agenda, so there might never be a v2

    2. If a v2 is commissioned, there has to be a bidding process and a rival vendor might get the work. Why make it easier for them?

    3. If v2 is commissioned and we get the work again, we want it to be a lengthy project so that our profit margins can be kept high. No real incentive to make it easy for ourselves.

    I'm not saying all of those things makes complete sense to me, but that was the logic they employed.

    This doesn't explain why all public-sector projects go over-budget. In fact, you could argue this should make them easier to deliver on-budget. But it does make you think about the mindset involved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Future-proofing is designed out

      "In fact, you could argue this should make them easier to deliver on-budget. "

      What happens is that the customer spec keeps changing during development. The "closed end" design makes it difficult to incorporate the changes without substantial upheaval. A canny salesperson will have negotiated the contract on thin, or non-existent, margins to win it - but with a provision for any changes to be charged at lucrative rates.

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    How difficult is it really?

    1, Subsidy payments to farmers stop

    2, Computer system to process them is turned off

    1. cynic56

      Re: How difficult is it really?

      I take my hat off to you, except for omitting the 'joke' icon.

      Many farmers are totally dependent on these and mass bankruptcies and suicides would follow because they are operating in a 'broken' system. We were going to put a stop to the madness of the CAP subsidies when we joined the Common Market in the seventies. Forty years on and we haven't even dented them.

      It is almost inevitable that farm subsidies will INCREASE when we leave the EU. The Government will need to work out the replacement scheme, which will involve negotiating with the vested interests of the agricultural sector - and we all know how good the Government are at negotiating with vested interests - ask the Banking Industry or BT /Openretch or Train Operating companies .... or just about anybody.

      1. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Re: How difficult is it really?

        Is farming a business or division of the DSS?

        If farmers are dependent on subsidies then lets call it what it is - expensive countryside dole.

        And in a country with people cramped in tiny, expensive housing, can you make a case for epople having to work to pay for someones hobby that uses up lots of land?

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: How difficult is it really?

          "If farmers are dependent on subsidies then lets call it what it is - expensive countryside dole."

          Farming is a strategic necessity. Literally, in the "essential-in-case-of-war" sense.

          It's nice being undercut by foreigners when it comes to food prices, till the foreign supplies cease to be available, as so nearly happened in WW2.

          Farming subsidies are no different from expenditure on civil defence or the military, and probably a lot more practical use than Trident or the F-35.

          There are other reasons to subsidise farming, many of them, but this is one that even the likes of John Redwood could possibly be made to understand, with time and patience.

          1. H in The Hague Silver badge

            Re: How difficult is it really?

            "There are other reasons to subsidise farming ..."

            Wish I could upvote you more than once.

            On the whole I am greatly in favour of international trade and not that keen on subsidies. But the UK, and for that matter, any country, benefits from having at least some degree of self-sufficiency in food production. And having local food production gives us more control over food standards and the environmental impact of food production.

            Quick cost/benefit check: EU membership costs the average person living in the UK (or NL, like me currently) less than a pound a day. So farming subsidies are even lower than that. That strikes me as very affordable insurance. After all, some claim that we're only three missed meals away from a revolution.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: How difficult is it really?

              "There are other reasons to subsidise farming ..."

              I'm sure the WTO and all our new trading partners will see it exactly like that

              We subsidise UK farmers so they are cheaper than Canadian wheat or US chicken and they simply tack a 50% import duty on Dutchy Original Oat Cakes and Richard Curtis movies - or whatever it is that the UK is goign to export once all the multinationals move out

              1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                Re: How difficult is it really?

                "We subsidise UK farmers so they are cheaper than Canadian wheat or US chicken"

                All right.

                We also subsidise farmers to maintain our landscape. England and Wales don't look like that because, Nature. They look like that because of farming. If nobody looks after the land, not only not much food but also the loss of the landscape that is supposed to be one of the good things about this country, so there goes a lot of tourism as well.

                The word "thwaite" that occurs in many place names of Scandinavian origin means "a cultivated clearing" or, loosely, a garden. That may suggest what it was like before cultivation; a wilderness. (The word "twat" is derived from thwaite, I believe. Make of that what you will.)

                1. HmmmYes Silver badge

                  Re: How difficult is it really?

                  So, now, rather subbing production, we sub the likes of grouse moor - thats where millions of agri sub are going.

                  And, speaking as someone who comes from a high farming area, we create these de-treed landscape which cause flooding to the lower lying land.

                  Tarrifs are enough.

                  If you want to sub agri productin then you need to to let everyone bid for sub rather than just doling it out to the same bunch of people every year.

          2. HmmmYes Silver badge

            Re: How difficult is it really?

            Not really.

            The sub goes on hill sheep farming.

            Noone eats mutton.

          3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: How difficult is it really?

            You might have a point about farming being a strategic necessity if Britain hadn't already sold off much of its infrastructure (including critical infrastructure) to other countries.

            Also it's pointless, farming is not my area, but in WWII we were dependent on imports from other countries in order to survive. Things have only got worse in the last 70 years. If Britain is ever cut off from supplies the country will descend into anarchy so quickly it's unreal.

            It's entirely predictable what will happen post Brexit. The huge agribusinesses will get a bung, anything smaller will receive naff all. If you're in farming and projections are not positive get out, it won't improve.

            Same with tied pub owners, anyone who takes on a new tied lease without a cast iron understanding of what cashflow they'll receive, and the ability to walk away immediately on lease renew should be committed to an asylum.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: How difficult is it really?

              So we subsidise conifer plantations so that in the event of war we will have 20years supply of paper pulp - but all our natural gas comes from Russia ?

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How difficult is it really?

            "Farming subsidies are no different from expenditure on civil defence or the military, [...]"

            Except that this government is buying defence items from other countries. The F-35 engines will be overhauled in Italy and Turkey. In a time of war the Navy will find there are no longer enough UK registered cargo ships to be pressed into service as fleet transports.

      2. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: mass bankruptcies and suicides would follow

        Christ. How bad would it have been if they had lost the referendum ?

  15. Lars Silver badge
    Joke

    Voyna i Mor

    Very true, over time I suppose fox hunting would become more interesting though.

    It's quite funny to compare the landscape of Finland and Denmark as it's the opposite regarding the size of woods and fields.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It's quite funny to compare the landscape of Finland and Denmark as it's the opposite regarding the size of woods and fields."

      Driving from Stockholm to Bergen on a relative back road in the 1970s was interesting. The Sweden/Norway border posts were open - so you didn't usually get stopped. The contours of the landscape didn't change. However - the road suddenly changed from a straight one to a system that was obviously following all the twists and turns of old small field boundaries.

  16. anonymous boring coward Silver badge
  17. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    hang on a minute, the Rural Payments system wasnt actually a defra failure, wasnt it GDS that royally screwed defra by bringing in there socalled Agile Gurus

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you mean their un-agile gurus.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's called karma

    For all those farmers that couldn't compete with Europe, so voted Brexit, and who certainly won't be able to compete when we actually leave.

    Although Brexit's not a dead cert by any means.

    You've got to remember, you're on your own - British politicians don't give a flying expletive deleted about anyone but themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's called karma

      "British politicians don't give a flying expletive deleted about anyone but themselves."

      Nor do the politicians of the non-EU countries with whom Britain hopes to negotiate post-BREXIT trade deals.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: It's called karma

        @AC

        "Nor do the politicians of the non-EU countries with whom Britain hopes to negotiate post-BREXIT trade deals."

        Nor do politicians of the EU who have so far decided we must be punished or be made to suffer for leaving. In short all politicians dont care about anyone but themselves. Unfortunately the further away from the electorate they are the less they care.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

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