Hard Brexit campaigners have been accused of “peddling sinister McCarthyism” today, as Chris Heaton-Harris MP, a Government whip, sent a letter to a number of universities asking for lists of their academics teaching European studies, as well as information about their syllabus relating to Brexit.
New research by the Open Britain campaign has found that this is hardly an isolated incident. Senior Leave campaigners, such as Andrea Leadsom and Jacob-Rees Mogg, have a recent track record of vilifying business and the media for a perceived lack of patriotism, or being funded by Brussels:
- On 24th June, Leader of the House of Commons and hard Brexit supporter Andrea Leadsom called on broadcasters to be more 'patriotic' in their coverage of Brexit negotiations.
- On 23rd July, Secretary of State for International Trade and hard Brexit supporter Liam Fox claimed the BBC was 'wilfully' ignoring positive stories about Brexit.
- On 11th July, former Leader of UKIP and hard Brexit supporter, Nigel Farage claimed that the BBC had a 'blatant anti-Brexit bias'.
- On 23rd October, Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed the reason that the CBI supported a transition deal was because it was 'EU funded'.
- On 24th October, Conservative MP, Government Whip and hard Brexit supporter Chris Heaton-Harris wrote to UK universities asking for lists of their academics teaching European affairs, as well as information about their syllabus on Brexit.
Commenting, James McGrory, Executive Director of Open Britain, said:
"This letter from a Government Whip to universities asking for lists of academics teaching about Brexit is a sinister development but it follows on from a pattern of behaviour from the Brextremists.
"We are lucky in Britain to live in an open and free society in which academics, journalists and others should be free to teach and speak as they please without being lambasted by Leave campaigners launching a 21st Century McCarthyism.
"There is a clear pattern of politicians in favour of a hard and destructive Brexit attempting to shut down reasoned debate. It is a reflection of the utter bankruptcy of their ideology and their lack of confidence in how Brexit is unfolding.”
Notes to editors:
This story is reported in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/brexit-mccarthyism_uk_59f064cce4b0b7e632660c90?utm_hp_ref=uk-politics
Liam Fox quote: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/liam-fox-bbc-wilfully-ignored-positive-brexit-news-liberal-democrats-alistair-carmichael-eu-andrea-a7856226.html%3famp
Jacob Rees-Mogg quote: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.lbc.co.uk/radio/jacob-rees-mogg-hosts-his-first-show/
Chris Heaton-Harris letter: http://news.sky.com/story/professor-blasts-tory-mp-over-sinister-brexit-letter-sent-to-universities-11096444