John Alty - Interim Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Trade (DIT) 18 January 2021 – 15 August 2021
24 June 2022
Were you at all involved in any of the pre-referendum work, such as the Balance of Competences Review? Did you have any impression of the way in which the Civil Service or your colleagues in the core department were preparing for the referendum? John Alty (JA): We did have involvement in that, because the IPO was responsible for policy on intellectual property as well as delivery. [...] Ironically, when that was being set up the UK was not in the EU, it was in the process of joining, and so the French refused to allow the UK to participate in an EU institution when it wasn’t a member. [...] That was one of the benefits, actually, of coming from the IPO, because EU competence was a bit mixed in that area, so there was quite a lot that the UK did internationally as the UK and not a Member State. [...] UKICE: Did you get any pushback from DExEU about the fact that you were so willing to produce rigorous assessments of the impacts of suggested trade deals? There was quite a contrast between the Government’s approach to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the trade negotiations with the EU, and the Government’s approach to trade negotiations with other countries. [...] It took a little while to explain to everybody that we couldn’t have one tariff for the EU and one tariff for the rest of the world if we had no deal with the EU.