back to article Watchdog asks UK.gov to reissue freedom of information guidance after councils are told to STFU about Brexit plans

The UK's data watchdog has asked two government departments and a Kent Brexit planning group to rethink advice given to local councils on how to handle Freedom of Information (FoI) requests. At the end of last month, Kent Online reported that local councils were being told how to avoid releasing information about their work on …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "We've also approached the Kent Resilience Forum, Dexeu and MCHLG."

    But will they reply before March 29th?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "But will they reply before March 29th?"

      Oh probably. Which year?

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        You might get and answer from the Kent Resilience Forum and MCHLG but good luck with the Dexeu.

        They seem to have a problem distinguishing their arse from their elbow.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          What elbow? All I can see is a string of arses.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge

            The elbow is sharper than the arse, and is given to shoving off anyone who asks embarrassing questions.

    2. Steve Knox Silver badge

      "We can neither confirm nor deny whether or not we have been asked to change our policy of neither confirming nor denying whether or not we have that information..."

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    would undermine the effective conduct of public affairs

    That's the government's job surely ?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: would undermine the effective conduct of public affairs

      @Yet Another Anonymous coward

      That is what governments worldwide are known for

  3. Thought About IT

    Why worry?

    Don't know why they're worried about secrecy. Any scary warnings about what could happen after Brexit will be water off a duck's back to Brexiters. They've been primed to label that sort of thing as "project fear", so they can dismiss it without further thought..

    1. Locky Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Why worry?

      I'm starting to doubt Project Fear exists. It's delivering far too much and suffering too little delay to be a real government project.

      Until I see the headlines around it costing 3 times its estimate and being taken over by Capita I'm calling shenanigans

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why worry?

        "I'm starting to doubt Project Fear exists."

        I don't think it ever did. There was never any need for a Project Fear. We already have a "meeja" who love to spout bad news whenever they can. The bigger and more scary, the better. And they've had many decades to perfect the process.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Why worry?

      @Thought About IT

      "Don't know why they're worried about secrecy. Any scary warnings about what could happen after Brexit will be water off a duck's back to Brexiters."

      True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers who are hiding in their mothers basement surrounded by cans of tuna they stocked up on for the coming brexocolypse where the monsters from under their beds will come out and terrorise them.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Why worry?

        I'll have you know that neither my mother nor myself like tuna.

        Spam, though, I've got lots of spam. And whisky. I'll be fine while you head-in-the-sand lot are fighting each other over the last tomato in England.

        1. harmjschoonhoven

          Re: Why worry?

          Spam, though, I've got lots of spam. And whisky. Whisky, smuggled from the independent Republic of Islay (EU).

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Why worry?

            I don't think of it as smuggling but more like a uniquely advantageous trade deal beyond the wit or capacity of Liam Fox.

            1. illuminatus

              Re: Why worry?

              "beyond the wit or capacity of Liam Fox."

              That's is a very very wide pool. As is counting past ten without using fingers.

              1. ZJ

                Re: Why worry?

                Is counting past ten with fingers easier than without fingers?

        2. codejunky Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Why worry?

          @Rich 11

          "I'll have you know that neither my mother nor myself like tuna.

          Spam, though, I've got lots of spam. And whisky. I'll be fine while you head-in-the-sand lot are fighting each other over the last tomato in England."

          I have plenty whiskey too. American. Not a fan of spam and if you think we will be fighting over the last tomato while surrounded by cans and hiding in your mothers basement because of this brexocolypse... oh wait I am repeating my previous comment.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Why worry?

        where the monsters from under their beds will come out and terrorise them.

        Well, didn't that start (sort of) when Leave.EU were lining up the worlds biggest grinning idiots like the cast of a musical that turned out to be off-key and with bad lyrics but got Britains vote anyway from the hearing trumpet crowd for whom 'lies on the side of a bus' are big enough to read.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Why worry?

          @Teiwaz

          "Well, didn't that start (sort of) when Leave.EU were lining up the worlds biggest grinning idiots like the cast of a musical that turned out to be off-key and with bad lyrics but got Britains vote anyway from the hearing trumpet crowd for whom 'lies on the side of a bus' are big enough to read."

          I dont think they could be called monsters from under the bed. They were too incompetent and comical with it. When I saw the 'official' leave campaign chosen over the legitimate leave campaign and acting like buffoons I assumed they were a plant to make remain look good. Then I saw the remain campaign and realised that was not the case (both were embarrassing).

      3. illuminatus

        Re: Why worry?

        "monsters from under their beds will come out and terrorise them"

        Give them their proper names: Johnson, Gove and Rees-Mogg.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Why worry?

          @illuminatus

          "Give them their proper names: Johnson, Gove and Rees-Mogg."

          I dont entirely agree with Mogg being a monster. He seems to have his principles and his eccentricity but respects that he is the odd one out. But we can add monsters all day Cameron, Osborne, Carney (who should have been neutral!), Junker, long name begining with V, etc.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why worry?

            >I dont entirely agree with Mogg being a monster.

            He's certainly very different when there aren't cameras running - pretty much all of them are. Johnson even has a different name, in real life everyone calls him Al not Boris. Problem is people, or at least TV, seem to love the comical personas and media trained patter.

          2. Rakkor

            Re: Why worry?

            @codejunky

            "Carney (who should have been neutral!)"

            Why should Carney be neutral - He has one responsibility which is to look after the BoE within the constraints set by the Government - If he sees that Brexit is damaging to his task then he has to call it out, and since every single economic forecast for Brexit is damaging then surely it's his duty do say it

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Why worry?

              @Rakkor

              "Why should Carney be neutral - He has one responsibility which is to look after the BoE within the constraints set by the Government - If he sees that Brexit is damaging to his task then he has to call it out, and since every single economic forecast for Brexit is damaging then surely it's his duty do say it"

              Actually no. The BoE should be politically neutral. Corbyn and his socialism tried and failed in every country its been tried through history and present is not cause for the BoE to make statements of the damage. Tory plans nor lib etc. In fact the BoE stays out of politics and the EU membership is absolutely politics.

              Second to that the damage claimed by Carney resulted in Mervyn King (he predecessor) not only pointing out how badly Carney was lying about damage but Carney basically lost credibility by attacking the very things the BoE and Treasury have been trying to do since 2008. Not only did he lose the impartiality of his position but he looked incompetent while doing so.

              1. tfb Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: Why worry?

                If a political act will, or is likely to, have economic effects (beneficial or detrimental) does this mean that the Bank of England should not report on the possible effects, as that would 'not be politically neutral'? What exactly are they allowed to report on then? Perhaps we should just not have them, or perhaps their opinions should always be made in secret to the government, as clearly it would be bad for ordinary people to know what might happen as a consequence of their decisions.

                Similarly what about these terrible civil servants we pay so much money who keep giving us advice on the likely impacts of various political choices on the climate and pointing out that some of them are really bad. That's just clearly not politically neutral, is it. We have to stop this dangerous 'science' stuff which is even worse than the wretched economists, or at the very least make sure the public doesn't know about what the boffins are saying.

                Yes, this is the knd of thinking we need: don't tell the public anything as that would 'interfere with the planning process'.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: Why worry?

                  @tfb

                  "If a political act will, or is likely to, have economic effects (beneficial or detrimental) does this mean that the Bank of England should not report on the possible effects, as that would 'not be politically neutral'?"

                  That is how the BoE works. Lets look at labour wanting to spend every penny and more, where was the BoE reporting against them? Or the current labour lot of mass socialists who are pushing ideas demonstrated to be catastrophic for economies, where is Carney on that? Same for the lib dems and tories (labour are just easy targets right now for being so definitely destructive).

                  "Perhaps we should just not have them"

                  Why? The purpose of an independent BoE is to balance out the gov. The gov exists to buy votes, the BoE to keep the economy from tanking because of politicians. If the BoE wants to become politicians or kingmakers then they should be reporting during GE's causing the greens, libs, labour and possibly tory to lose vote share.

                  "as clearly it would be bad for ordinary people to know what might happen as a consequence of their decisions."

                  This is interesting. When Carney stepped into the politics of brexit and made his 'claims' he was shown to be either a lier or incompetent by the former head of the BoE. Carney literally argued against the goals of the Treasury and BoE and was caught out badly.

                  "Similarly what about these terrible civil servants we pay so much money who keep giving us advice on the likely impacts of various political choices on the climate"

                  What advice is that? Because I see windfarms, solar and smart meters but not much of that is geared toward fixing climate change. In fact we end up with a lot of wasted money, low power surplus and high prices because of political decisions on climate.

                  "We have to stop this dangerous 'science' stuff which is even worse than the wretched economists, or at the very least make sure the public doesn't know about what the boffins are saying"

                  Now you are making an interesting suggestion which is the opposite to where I am going with this. It is the promotion of FUD, anti-economics and in this response even anti-science which is the problem and what I am against.

                  "Yes, this is the knd of thinking we need: don't tell the public anything as that would 'interfere with the planning process'."

                  That does seem to be a solid remain argument. That and dont even give people a choice because 'they wont do what I want'.

                  1. tfb Silver badge
                    Trollface

                    Re: Why worry?

                    What advice is that?

                    Look up, for instance ScenarioMIP.

                    I'm not going to bother replying to the rest of it: arguing with people who live under bridges is never productive.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Why worry?

                      @tfb

                      "I'm not going to bother replying to the rest of it: arguing with people who live under bridges is never productive."

                      Not sure you bothered replying to any of it. Cute link that seems as relevant as what you had for lunch. Come back when you have something to contribute to the discussion

          3. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Why worry?

            Rees-Mogg is definitely evil all for leaving the EU but has his investments firms in Ireland. That happens to be in the EU.

            He's a dick.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Why worry?

              @steviebuk

              "Rees-Mogg is definitely evil all for leaving the EU but has his investments firms in Ireland. That happens to be in the EU."

              That seems closer to the truth than some of the other claims. His EU investments in his firm are in the EU yes. If they were not in the EU then they would not EU investment funds.

              "He's a dick."

              Probably

              1. sabroni Silver badge

                Re: He seems to have his principles

                He believes in "the sovereign individual" and knows that his money will allow him to do very well while all the plebs are starving after a no deal exit.

      4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers"

        Here's a question for you.

        If 11000 lorries go through Dover a day, and 10% of them need to be searched and it takes 1 minute to search them how late will be the last lorry from its planned arrival?

        The answer is 18 hours, if it takes 1 min to search a lorry and only 10% are being searched*.

        BTW standard duration of the fuel tank on a lorry refrigerator is 4 days.

        *Too bad you can't search a lorry in 1 min without an army of staff who haven't been paid or trained.

        Keep calling it "Project Fear" from your bolthole (is it even in the UK, or have you f**ked off to Singapore or other sunnier climb?)

        The rest of us will call it "Project Reality."

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers"

          @John Smith 19

          "If 11000 lorries go through Dover a day, and 10% of them need to be searched and it takes 1 minute to search them how late will be the last lorry from its planned arrival?"

          How late are they now? Why do you suddenly assume that will change? Are you sure 1 in 10 are searched currently?

          "Keep calling it "Project Fear" from your bolthole (is it even in the UK, or have you f**ked off to Singapore or other sunnier climb?)"

          I am in the UK. And it is project fear unless your gonna tell me we have problems now with the volume of traffic (and remainers moan that traffic will fall too!).

          "The rest of us will call it "Project Reality.""

          Thats fine you can call it whatever you like, it still doesnt change the real world. And so far the real world diverges greatly from the brexocolypse views told from the referendum and continuing to this very day.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers"

            I am in the UK. And it is project fear unless your gonna tell me we have problems now with the volume of traffic

            Don't we?

            Isn't called congestion. And there's a charge for that in London (but then, spending a penny was over-inflated last I was there (but I remember in the early eighties it was 20p)).

            I'm not so certain people are concerned traffic will fall so much that any tailbacks at the ports will stretch inland. When does traffic fall? When it's ostensibly parked in a queue.

            Finally 1 minute to search a lorry????

            Where is the impetus for pitstop tyre change efficiency (where's the impetus for any efficiency in Governemnt authority unless it's saving a penny today so it looks good).

            You are leaving out the eager hard-boiled customs agents who dream of promotion on the back of nabbing some guy and being over-thorough in inspection and other human failings. They practically strip search UK citizens returning from a bus tour beer and fags to france and Belgium while in the Common Market. It'll be SS officer levels of interrogation when we leave (if it isn't already, I gave up the smokes years ago).

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              "Finally 1 minute to search a lorry????"

              Indeed. Searching an HGV in 1 min flat is pure fantasy. I think 10% vehicle searched is also on the low side.

              The example was given to show that even with absurdly fast search and minimal numbers being searched you still end up with an 1100 min (IE 18 1/3 hours) delay on the last lorry.

              Now when you factor in that Honda have stated they have JIT deliveries for about 3 hours of car production at their factory it's not surprising that from a logistics PoV it's time to leave the UK.

              Likewise if you've been carrying produce for 3 days your refrigerators fuel tank will be close to empty before you arrive. I few more congestion delays from the poor and you refrigerator is not refrigerating any more. :-(

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: "Finally 1 minute to search a lorry????"

                @John Smith 19

                "Indeed. Searching an HGV in 1 min flat is pure fantasy. I think 10% vehicle searched is also on the low side."

                Again how do we cope now? And why do you think it will be any different?

                "Now when you factor in that Honda have stated they have JIT deliveries for about 3 hours of car production at their factory it's not surprising that from a logistics PoV it's time to leave the UK."

                Your a bit too late, Honda have already explained it is nothing to do with brexit. To jump on that bandwagon you need to say that days ago and then we would have corrected you when Honda reported. Instead you are just plain wrong.

        2. DialTone

          Re: "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers"

          Incomplete stats are so beautiful. They can say anything you wish.

          If we assume that those 11000 lorries arrive between 5am and midnight each day, that gives about 10 lorries a minute. At 10% that's 1 per minute that needs searching, so if a search takes 1 minute, there would be absolutely zero delay.

          The problem of course is that 11000 passing through Dover each day says nothing about the distribution of that traffic by time period (as one would reasonably anticipate there to be specific high-traffic periods).

          Furthermore, just because it takes 1 minute to search (the first lorry) doesn't mean that all search times are accumulated as a delay to the last lorry (whose planned arrival time was significantly later than the first). There's no way of calculating the accumulated delay to the last lorry based on the numbers given.

          I'm not disputing that there are significant challenges which need to be addressed when it comes to border security and customs enforcement (amongst many, many other issues), but with respect, the "Project Fear" nomenclature has arisen in large part due to similar click-bait/sound-bite statements and statistics which are demonstrably inaccurate, either in whole or in part. (I don't suggest that the lorry comment was made with that intent, but its simplicity and inaccuracy is exemplar of the statements I'm talking about - inability to drive on the continent, planes unable to fly etc)

          Sadly, as such "information" serves well to mask the incompetence of "those in charge" it will continue to be excreted in order to distract those who are either unable to tell the difference (as would appear to be the case with many in our political classes), or apathetic towards such nonsense. Unfortunately it also serves to mask those lesser-spotted truths which are sandwiched within and to which we should all be most concerned.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers"

            Of course! Now it's obvious! Every one of those lorries arrives on its own boat! There's a nicely spaced out chain of them coming across the channel!

          2. Santa from Exeter

            Re: "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers" @DialTone

            Quote - 'the "Project Fear" nomenclature has arisen in large part due to similar click-bait/sound-bite statements and statistics'

            I think you will find that the Project Fear rhetoric was well planned from the start by the hard-line Brexiteers as a response to anybody daring to question the wisdom of throwing the country under a bus to suit themselves.

            Much like the Slimy Gove's rubbishing of "Experts", who apparently now know nothing about their area of expertise. *What he really meant was I'm fed up of them pointing out when I'm talking bollocks, i.e.95% of the time)

          3. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers"

            so if a search takes 1 minute, there would be absolutely zero delay

            I think we can agree that a search is going to take more than one minute. Even if it's just two minutes, that's 1100 minutes of delay. If that's spread over ten customs channels (the capacity you'd normally need), that's almost two hours per channel per day. Do you delay the ferries so they can leave at full capacity? Do you put an extra couple of ferries on?

            How late are they now? Why do you suddenly assume that will change? Are you sure 1 in 10 are searched currently?

            The government have obviously decided that they need to allow for the possibility of extra ferry services (a pity they put Grayling in charge of it). And at the Port of Rotterdam they're spending tens of millions on adding capacity, to reduce tailbacks and to manage lorry-parking when it does happen.

            It's almost like the people who work in these places know more than we do...

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: "True but that doesnt account for the doom-mongers"

              @Rich 11

              "It's almost like the people who work in these places know more than we do..."

              Very true-

              https://www.continentaltelegraph.com/brexit/quite-fascinating-the-ports-can-cope-with-brexit/

              Nothing to worry about it seems

          4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            There's no way of calculating the accumulated delay to the last lorry based on the numbers given.

            Actually there was a fairly simple answer to working out the delay

            But you didn't like the answer so you decided to answer a different question.

            That seems the Brexiteer mindset in a nutshell.

            Let's try agreeing on some things.

            1) Brexit was badly thought out with no regards to the consequences

            2) Less than 900 hours away from it HNG still has no real clue what to do

            3) The PM's stance looks looks less like "resolute" and more like "is on the ASD scale" to most with"F**king delusional" for others.

            1. Cederic

              Re: There's no way of calculating the accumulated delay

              ,"Actually there was a fairly simple answer to working out the delay"

              Yes. It was called 'applying common sense' and coming up with an answer of "10 percent of the lorries will be delayed by one minute each".

              What, you think searching lorries is sequential? What does that tell us about your mindset, in a nutshell?

              I can agree with your statements 1-3, but my response is even more simple than the answer you were seeking: No deal. We'll cope.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happens all the time

    We get the government and other agencies trying to tell us how to handle our FOIs (in the NHS). We just ignore the advice, tell them to do one and get on with it. We are a separate legal entity and have to manage them ourselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Happens all the time

      We just ignore the advice, tell them to do one and get on with it. We are a separate legal entity and have to manage them ourselves.

      Sounds like you Took Back Control. Well done.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    This is going to be embarrassing

    The FOI requests will force everyone to admit that they have no plans ... oh wait, no there are some plans - everyone's booked vacations abroad in April. Trotters Up!

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: This is going to be embarrassing

      Nonsense, the 'great and the good' have already gotten they villas abroad, from which they can quite capably manage business from, tax situation willing.

    2. agurney

      Re: This is going to be embarrassing

      ..oh wait, no there are some plans - everyone's booked vacations abroad in April ..

      No, holidays will be taken in March .. after that we'll be limited to only a couple of bottles of wine duty free. (at least the anomaly of it being cheaper for me to drive from Scotland and buy my whisky in Spain will go away)

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: This is going to be embarrassing

        You will still be able to drive to Asda in Carlisle to avoid minimum pricing in Scotland. Only relevant of course if you want really cheap paint-stripper stuff.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    I'm thinking of offering B'n'B to Brexiters needing a break from a Hard Brexit, strictly authentic Spanish 'foreign muck' for breakfast though !

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Coat

      If they're Brexiters you could give them Criadillas al Brexit.

      I'll let the audience find their own English translation.

  7. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Happy

    I found the brexit plans

    they were on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused toilet with a sign of the door saying beware of the leopard

    Yeah DNA again... much better than Sir Humphrey above

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay tax and see the money used to build the STASI....

    Quote: "...local councils were being told how to avoid releasing information about their work on planning for a no-deal outcome of the country's negotiations to leave the European Union..."

    Typical authoritarian approach. While GCHQ is tracking phone calls, reading emails and text messages, hacking our friends in Belgium (Belgacom).....the citizens who are paying for the STASI aren't allowed to find out what the elected local authorities are doing on their behalf. Welcome to the future.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Pay tax and see the money used to build the STASI....

      "Typical authoritarian approach. While GCHQ is tracking phone calls, reading emails and text messages, hacking our friends in Belgium (Belgacom).....the citizens who are paying for the STASI aren't allowed to find out what the elected local authorities are doing on their behalf. Welcome to the future present."

      Ahem...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ...

    This is what we are told when the government wants to slurp all our information.

    So now we are forbidden from having this information, it is secret. They have something to hide. What have they to fear?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ...

      Don't go compare your sorry self to the Elite of the country, pleb. They deserve a special treatment.

      /s

      1. illuminatus

        Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ...

        Like their own special wall to be lined up against when the revolution comes...

        1. tfb Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ...

          Can we impale their heads on pikes afterwards please?

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ...

        "They deserve a special treatment."

        Hmmm...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ...

      They have something to hide. What have they to fear?

      Concrete written proof that the emperor is stark bollock naked.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        " Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ... "

        This. Always this whenever some govt dept is afraid to reveal what's happening.

        Because let's face it either those councils have no plans (which most people would find quite alarming given just the admitted impact of a hard Brexit)

        Or

        They have detailed plans which reveal just how badly the Great British Public (and any foreigners who happen to be living there) will get f**ed up.

        No wonder that particular govt dept (and it's Minister de Jour) is sh***ing itself.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: " Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ... "

          Hacker: How am I going to explain the missing documents to the Mail?

          Sir Humphrey: Well, this is what we normally do in circumstances like these.

          [passes Hacker a memo]

          Sir Humphrey: "This file contains the complete set of papers, except for a number of secret documents, a few others which are part of still active files, some correspondence lost in the floods of 1967..."

          Hacker: Was 1967 a particularly bad winter?

          Sir Humphrey: No, a marvelous winter. We lost no end of embarrassing files. "...Some records which went astray in the move to London and others when the War Office was incorporated in the Ministry of Defence, and the normal withdrawal of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments". That's pretty comprehensive.

          Hacker: How many does that normally leave for them to look at?

          [Humphrey shrugs]

          Hacker: How many does it actually leave? About a hundred?... Fifty?... Ten?... Five?... Four?... Three?... Two?... One?... Zero?

          Sir Humphrey: Yes, Minister.

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear ...

      "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" is wrong.

      They are hiding the fact that there is nothing to hide, and they are fearful that people will find out.

  10. random mathematician

    A bit late...

    So if you want a reply, get your FoI request in now - they have 20 working days to reply, so at best you'll have a 3 day heads up before the plans are made public by being implemented!

    1. Jimmy2Cows

      Re: A bit late...

      You think they have plans? Actual, real, implementable plans...!?!

      More likely fingers in their ears and singing lala lala lala lala... lala lala lala lala...

  11. Stephen Wilkinson

    Now if only the same response could be applied to all the requests that come in to get information for sales people masquerading as FOI requests that are completely pointless as councils have to go to tender for new software anyway.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A run on the bank.

    We cannot tell you if there is a risk on there being a run on the bank, because it may cause a run on the bank.

    That FOI request? Must be quantum, because just by existing, it breaks the superposition of choices... it leaves us stuck, and knowing we don't know what to do!

  13. tfb Silver badge
    Big Brother

    So, apparently the government's advice has

    [...] balanced the government's commitment to transparency with the need to protect the planning process.

    What, exactly, do they need to 'protect the planning process' from? Is there some reason we should not know what no deal implies for us? If knowing what no deal implies would cause alarm then, well, we should probably be alarmed, not pacified by a convenient lack of information. Indeed, merely knowing that knowing that what no deal implies would cause alarm so we are not being allowed to know what it implies should cause alarm. And we do know that now, so we should be alarmed.

    1. Jimmy2Cows

      The reason is we're boned, as at all local, regional and national levels of government there is no actual clue what to do in the event of no deal.

      Just like they never expected to lose the referendum so had no contingency plans when they did, they have diddly squat plans for no deal because they don't believe it will/can happen. Failure of imagination.

      1. tfb Silver badge
        Alien

        Right, and that's why we should be doubly alarmed: we should be alarmed because we're fucked if there's no deal and we should be alarmed because the government is systematically concealing how fucked we will be from us.

        Without expressing a point of view about whether we would be better off in or out of the EU, triggering the countdown to leaving without first having sorted out the plan was an act so stupid it's hard to describe.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Just like they never expected to lose the referendum so had no contingency plans when they did, they have diddly squat plans for no deal because they don't believe it will/can happen

        More like unbridled and unfounded optimism that it'll be a cinch to sort out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tax.

      If Tax goes up after, you could theoretically dump [taxables] right before the change, and avoid (legally!) paying more. Thus they hide it. :/

  14. Graham Cobb

    "New updated guidance has now been issued"

    So, what is it? Surely this time the advice, at least, has been published in full?

    Can El Reg give us a link?

    1. tfb Silver badge

      Re: "New updated guidance has now been issued"

      Of course it's not public. I mean, be serious.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: "New updated guidance has now been issued"

        It's on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard".

        1. tfb Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: "New updated guidance has now been issued"

          After killing the leopard and opening the cabinet, you find some dirty sheets of paper, some of which have drawings done, in crayon, apparently by a child, and the remainder of which are blank.

  15. Big_Boomer

    No Deal official guidance

    "In the event of a No Deal all government officials at all levels will momentarily withdraw their heads from their arses, look around, squeak like frightened mice, and promptly reinsert head where it normally lives. Under no circumstances should any of you admit anything about anything to anyone"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No deal brexit now!

    I initially voted to remain.

    Now I want out.

    Get me out now, no deal or better than May's deal. WTO 24. Whatever. Just out.

    The groundwork we do now will help our cousins on the continent also leave or finally have the ammo to reform the EU successfully. Reforming the house of lords would be a nice idea to take on too but the EU as it stands (version 1) is way more dangerous and needs to become version 2, leaving is just the start of the work ahead and its something we really need to sort out considering the crazy stuff happening with the US, NK and Russia.

    Or we stay in. We sit back and watch nothing change. No room to change, forever stuck in a post depression lull with house prices sky rocketing, salaries going up just enough to cover the cost of the smart meters increasing the bills.

    We can sit back and watch France enjoy a 1 year anniversary of the yellow vest movement, how long has that been going on now?

    We can watch Italy fall and watch the EU cut them off to save the Euro, bending their own rules (poor Greece).

    We can watch the EU propose laws that get yet again amended in secret on the say so of hyper rich companies back handing money to plutocrats who have worn bum shapes in their safe seats in the EU Commission. Safe seats that they get if their mates in the parliament continue to scratch their backs.

    We can sit back and watch yet another attempt to actually audit the EU and its collection/spending of european citizens money completely fail due to the system being designed, perhaps intentionally, to make an audit fail.

    We can sit back and relax in the safety of not having to put in some graft to try something different while nothing improves around us and we see our streets and economy just about ticking along in this post depression lull that will never seem to end. While we have no saving interest rates and most people will end up living with their parents till they are nearly in their 40's as they cant hope to afford a house. While people lose their jobs as companies "streamline" due to improving automation technologies (seen the amazon shop with no staff?). While international mega-corporations get away with paying no tax and undercutting the high street so that the high street because a housing estate and kids learn about what it used to be in history lessons.

    We can get off our seats as the EU call us all to war in the EU army that will eventually appear out the the merger and deeper co-operation of the separate EU armies. Dont think it will happen? Why wont it? What is there to stop it happening eventually, when everyone has got used to the idea and its a simple step as everything else was done piecemeal and the last step is just a bit of red tape that nobody would defend as they would see it as archaic?

    We can watch our veto be used to try and stop things that we dont like assuming those things are not built and passed piecemeal so nobody really sees the big picture. Oh that wonderful glorious veto. The EU gave it to us to shut us up when we were being annoying. Dont you think it will be "discussed" when the EU finds that the veto is getting in the way just a little too much? Oh we could threaten to leave the EU should they try to take it away? But how is that going now?

    All my life since the 90's when I was a teen I knew that I didnt like what was happening with the EU. It just dindt sit right somehow. Then in the early 2000's as a young FLOSS developer concerned with freedom on the net and Free Software etc I watched the EU corrupt itself over software patents. I watched the free world (Free Software and Open Source developers / companies / figure heads like Richard Stallman and others) descend onto the EU and shout "dont do it" "look what we have in the USA, save yourselves". It worked, the EU parliament listened and turned down the proposal several times on matter how much Microsoft et al tried. But the EU patent office said "fuck it" and passed it anyway, blatantly breaking the law as passed by the parliament but hiding just in the shadows by redefining the exact terms. Now software patents are both legal and illegal, depending who you ask and how much you pay.

    It was that moment I realised this may be happening elsewhere. I learned what a plutocracy was and I felt sick.

    This has gone on way too long lol. Sorry no TLDR :D

    Remember, I voted remain. Simply to enjoy the sitting back and relaxing. To avoid what I knew would be a hard task. Sticking my head in the ground thinking that its all fine, has been for decades.

    Now I'm like a kid kicking on the door screaming to be let out with the rest of the country that voted out. Looking up at the adults who are holding the door closed because they dont respect my freedom or choice to try something for myself. They want the easy street of sitting back, no matter how much I scream and cry my rights and democratic power mean nothing to them.

    LET ME OUT

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember, I voted remain

      No you didn't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No deal brexit now!

      Sorry, I think you meant to post this on a BBC HYS, under a amusing username, and prompt the usual troll army to upvote you extensively. El Reg has its own inhouse of specialist brexit commentards who already cover baiting the populace adequately without making it quite as obvious as you seem to have.

      I know its confusing this interwebs business, but if you check your info packs its all in there in small print.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No deal brexit now!

        "I know its confusing this interwebs business"

        I have a degree in computer science and know how the internet SHOULD work.

        Centralisation is the enemy, where ever it may be and in whatever form. The only exception is where it helps maintain interoperability.

    3. fajensen Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: No deal brexit now!

      or finally have the ammo to reform the EU successfully.

      That part is true. Brexit means immediately getting rid of the permanent British Veto of "Everything Except Markets ONLY (Dammit!)" and that new-found degree of freedom and flexibility will allow the EU to reform faster and (maybe) successfully.

      Also, after a decade of ZIRP there is *a lot* of stranded investments needing taking out the back of the barn and shot. Brexit is the purrfect opportunity to take a bunch of write-off's which are entirely to blame on this totally unpredicted and unique event that will never happen again - so it will also totally not hurt anything to bend the rules and get some bailouts all over it and make it nice again!

      You see? 'We' want the UK out too, and soon, for 'our' own reasons.

  17. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    TL;DR

    We're fucked

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    If even *knowing* the preparations being needed could alarm the populace

    Perhaps they should have been told what a no deal Brexit would involve before the referendum?

    Oh know, that might skew the result.

    By giving actual facts about the colossal s**tstorm that's going to happen?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: If even *knowing* the preparations being needed could alarm the populace

      @John Smith 19

      "Perhaps they should have been told what a no deal Brexit remain would involve before the referendum?"

      FIFY

  19. Welsh Skeptic

    In an event of a "No Deal" little is mentioned of the ensuing trade deal with America which Liam Fox and his pals seem desperate to implement with no concern of British interests or its people. Maybe that is why he has stated that he would like all details of any agreement to remain secret for five years or more.

    In practice, it will mean that the UK accepts all American law on patents, copyright and intellectual property rights and to give you a taster think of the Monsanto patented pig.

    This however is half the story. The US also wants an international arbitration board staffed by international corporate lawyers, the same system that operates between the US and Canada. Twenty times Canada has been sued by international corporations over potential lost profits, each time they lost whilst America has never lost a case.

    In case you are wondering about potential lost profits if the government or the NHS refuses to put out for private tender any of the work they do, any Tom Dick or Harry can sue them for the money they might have made if they had got the tender.

    If it was up to me, Liam Fox and his stooges should be charged with treason and their heads stuck on pike staffs on all the bridges over the Thames.

    The only people who gain over Brexit are those people who keep their money in tax havens. With Brexit, the pond will drop, interest rates rise and half the country will default on their loans. This is why these clever people would like the UK to become a large tax haven so that they can bring their money back into the country and buy up half the infrastructure in the resulting fire sale.

    It is a shame, I don't have money as if I had, I could make a fortune.

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