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Time to Challenge Defence Civil Servants over Brexit

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Professor Gwythian Prins and Sir Richard Dearlove introduce two new reports by Professor Prins on our REPORTS page with a warning about the conduct of UK civil servants over defence. They say that “there is something deeply, deeply wrong with the way that parts of the civil service are conducting themselves as we leave the EU”.

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Three weeks ago, a stream of misleading commentary suggesting that the GALILEO satellite programme was crucial for British defence, security or industrial interests compelled us to publish an article on the “Briefings for Brexit” website. The truth is almost completely the opposite. We applaud the Prime Minister’s reported willingness to authorise an independent British system. We are glad to read that the Secretary of State for Defence has authorised planning studies for operationalisation.

But the spat over GALILEO is symptomatic of something deeper. Some civil servants are over-stepping their mark. Their job is to serve – the clue is in the job title. But in matters relating to defence and security as they touch Brexit, evidence shows named civil servants acting ultra vires. One of the most shocking documents to come to light is in the ‘Kit Kat Tapes’ – secretly made recordings of civil servants speaking at a seminar at the London School of Economics that, quite rightly, The Sun newspaper published as a matter of over-riding national interest. It is a transcript of the remarks of Mr Alastair Brockbank,  a young man who is the defence adviser to Oliver Robbins who in turn is the Prime Minister’s principal Brexit adviser in No 10.

What Brockbank said is so flagrantly in breach of the peoples’ instruction to leave the EU, as well as so intellectually flabby, arrogant and incoherently expressed, that we first despaired and then become angry. There is something deeply, deeply wrong with the way that parts of the civil service are conducting themselves as we leave the EU. We explained in our GALILEO article that a bust-up was inevitable there. A challenge is also inevitable over the deplorable handling of discussions about defence – the first duty of the state – matters which in our view have nothing to do with the EU at all. So we should have that conversation, right now.

One of us (Gwythian Prins) is publishing today a two part study of defence and security after Brexit, again on the ‘Briefings for Brexit’ website. The first essay of this pair (“Tacking the Ship”) is bright reading.  It looks outwards to a world where our true – because tested – friends await our return to assume our proper role as one of the most significant pivots of the defence and security of the West.

The key alliances that we have are in NATO, the wider Commonwealth and, as one of us (Richard Dearlove) knows very well from being the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6),  the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and the special relationship with the USA. These place us, after the USA, in prime position of strong geo-political leadership. But to tack our well-found ship out to the open seas of our global future, we must first cut free from real and present dangers of continuing entanglement and subordination to the EU after Brexit.

“Tacking’s” intention is to provide the facts which blow away the myth of decline that has oppressed the minds of the British elite for half a century and which clouds their vision still, now that the EU is clearly in the zone of risk of collapse as explained in the underpinning April ‘Briefings for Brexit’ report on dynamics of collapse: something ever clearer in the Italian election implications: both the single currency and the Schengen area could fold.

The second essay (“Leaving Hotel California”) is dark. Its subject is precisely what those dangers of entanglement are and precisely who is trying to keep us subordinate to the EU, and how. It shows two things. First, that the ‘deep and special partnership’ that the Prime Minister would like with the EU after Brexit is not on offer: the EU offers subordination or nothing and all the facts are laid out to support that. Second, some civil servants are clearly seeking to lock Britain into a Hotel California Brexit from Hell : “You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave.” Brockbank’s remarks are in the Appendix so all readers may judge for themselves.

The big lesson is that the EU is structurally unable to negotiate anything. Il n’y a que texte  – in stone. Shaky but defiant, Brussels sees its best interest in doing us harm. So no deal was always better that ANY deal. And that will not change.

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About the author

Gwythian Prins

About the author

Sir Richard Dearlove