The Department for Exiting the European Union, DExEU, with its Spanish Inquisition- like acronym, seems run like a cross between a masonic lodge and a (minor) Cosa Nostra family that barely survived the latest drug war and is on the run from all the other families.
A year after its creation they've only just managed to appoint a Special Adviser to the Secretary of State (David "I don't carry notes" Davis) who is also his Chief of staff, meaning David "Notebooks are for losers. It's all 'up here', so it is!!" Davis has been without either all this time. The chap in question is a Tory Brexiteer who lost his seat at the last election- we'll glide over the symbolism there.
But here's the thing: no one - or at least none of my contacts in various think-tanks, public affairs companies and Parliament - seems to know how you get in touch with people there.
Needing to invite some top mandarins from DExEU to an event I resorted to calling their press office (it was the only number provided on the website) and was told they 'they think' the email addresses follow the pattern firstname.lastname@example.org but they could not confirm. I found another number for the Department on Dods' Vacher's Guide and proceeded to be connected to the very same press officer who told me they "don't have a receptionist" and to basically stop wasting her time.
In desperation I called a number appearing on the bottom of an email (address @cabinetoffice.gov.uk) of a top DExEU civil servant who once took part in one of our events and the phone was answered by a Polish lady who announced I was speaking to the Cabinet Office. I tried to ascertain with her whether I should invite her boss with the @dexeu email address or a @cabinetoffice email address and she told me, somewhat flustered, to 'try both'. I was then passed on to a more senior colleague who said he thought the other top civil servants I was trying to reach were 'probably' at both addresses but he didn't know for sure because 'they hadn't been in touch for some time'.
Why would, after all, the office of the DExEU Director of Analysis ever wish to speak to the office of the DeXEU Director of Market Access and Budget or the DExEU Director of Cross-Government Policy Coordination?
Why wold you make sure there was a receptionist on duty at all times and a streamlined, coherent suite of email addresses, making it easy for MPs, stakeholders or god forbid, European apparatchiks or even expert riff-raff to reach the Department by phone or email during the gigantic negotiations which are its sole reason to exist?
Once the nice Polish lady is deported they won't even have enough competent, hard working EU migrants to man the ship.
Move on, nothing to see here. Literally.