Civil servants believe their job is to say ‘no’ to ministers and this attitude is a major sticking point when the government is trying to push through a large amount of controversial reforms in most areas of the public sector, it has been claimed.

Many ministers feel that their efforts are being knocked back by a civil service that is almost at loggerheads with the government, according to research carried out by The Times newspaper which spoke of poisoned relationships.

“They think it’s their job just to say ‘No’,” a Cabinet minister is quoted as saying.

The paper also reported that both David Cameron and the ex-PM Tony Blair refer to the ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ series as a documentary rather than a comedy.