Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

From covert to overt treachery: the Cambridge Spy Ring and pro-EU civil servants

What is meant by treachery, and is it applicable to our establishment's sell-out to the EU? Conservative party members have been using the term about their leader Theresa May. Also implicated is the head civil servant of the Cabinet Office Europe Unit, Olly Robbins. Arguably, Robbins has been entreating to a foreign power, and is thus guilty of misconduct in public office. That's quite a charge, so let's consult the Crown Prosecution Service website ( 'The offence is committed when a public officer acting as such wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself, to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder, without reasonable excuse or justification.' Well, leaving a large file of highly sensitive Cabinet meeting notes on a Eurostar train aside, Robbins has given information and leverage to the EU at every turn, while the minister supposedly in charge of the Department for Leaving the EU, David Davis, was effectively sidelined. Sir Humphrey in 'Yes Minister' was sly, but he wasn't working for the opposition against his own country.  

How do characters like Robbins justify themselves? The increasingly authoritarian European project has similarities with Soviet communism in the 1930s, when many progressive British scholars and political activists made pilgrimages to Moscow, where stage-managed tours reinforced their belief in a Utopian dream made true. It's worth quoting journalist Malcolm Muggeridge at length: -

'Their delight in all they saw and were told, and the expression they gave to this delight, constitute one of the wonders of our age. They were earnest advocates of the humane killing of cattle who looked up at the massive headquarters of the OGPU[1] with tears of gratitude in their eyes, earnest advocates of proportional representation who eagerly assented when the necessity for a Dictatorship of the Proletariat was explained, earnest clergymen who reverently turned the pages of atheistic literature, earnest pacifists who watched delightedly tanks rattle across Red Square and bombing planes darken the sky, earnest town-planning specialists who stood outside overcrowded ramshackle tenements and muttered "If only we had something like this in England". The almost unbelievable credulity of these mostly university-educated tourists astonished even Soviet officials used to handling foreign visitors.'

In 1934, CW Guillebaud described the prevailing view: -

'The Russian experiment has aroused very great interest within the universities. It is felt to be bold and constructive, and youth, which is always impatient of the cautious delays and obstruction of its elders, is disposed to regard sympathetically this attempt to found a new social and political order.'

Left-wing scholars were disillusioned by events at home, with economic depression and Labour prime minister Ramsay Macdonald forced to form a National Government with the Conservatives. The Soviet Union promised a stable, equal society free from the cruel blows of capitalism, while it also stood against the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy and Spain. A good versus evil dichotomy overlooked Stalin's purges, the show trials and the great famine in Ukraine. Not until the brutal putdown of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 did the Left realise its mistake, although throughout the Cold War intellectual sympathies continued to favour the communists over Uncle Sam.

As Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky showed in their history of the KGB, the naive idealism in the universities was an open goal for Soviet espionage. The Cambridge Spy Ring comprised five scholars who needed no incentive other than their zealous commitment to the new Jerusalem: Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. They were inspired by Cambridge don Maurice Dobb, the first British scholar to join the Communist Party of Great Britain, consequently drawing the attention of MI5. Led by Burgess, a predatory homosexual Marxist recruited by the Soviets in 1933, these alumni of Trinity College spent their careers in subversive activity against their own country.Maclean was first of the five to enter the corridors of power, recruited to the Foreign Office in 1935; all of them went on to work in the intelligence services, passing state secrets to the Kremlin. This treason was eventually exposed in the 1950s, after much damage had been done.

Is it fair to relate the actions of Burgess and fellow traitors to the present corpus of senior civil servants who are working to overrule the EU referendum and tie Britain to the Brussels regime? There are major differences, of course. The Cambridge men were working undercover, and their dastardly deeds risked the severest of punishment. Olly Robbins, by contrast, is performing an official role.

Yet there are significant similarities. Both Philby and Robbins were enthused by a supranational order that would eclipse ill-informed popular opinion expressed at the ballot box. In the 1930s the ogre was fascism in a very real form; today the danger is opposition to globalisation and open borders – allegedly also fascist, as displayed in hostility to mass immigration and Islam. In the 1930s the dubious leader of the anti-fascist movement was Stalin; today it is the financier George Soros.

It makes sense that Robbins was once an aficionado of Stalin and Soviet communism. In obstructing the people's quest for renewed nationhood by leaving the EU, he is not alone. Enlightenment values, it seems, are reserved for the ideologically enlightened. Our institutions are dominated by Remainers determined to defy democracy, by ideological curtailments of freedom of speech, and by a legal culture that is abandoning the premise of equality before the law. Was the case of Tommy Robinson not a Stalinist exercise of power over a dissident, with lack of due process uncritically accepted by biased media? Standing up to protect fellow citizens – whether vulnerable girls from rape gangs or society in general from terrorism, is a threat to the authorities. Complain too much and you will be a target of surveillance.

Robbins is not, by the standards of our political masters, doing anything wrong. Although we are not privy to his off-record discussions with the EU, he does not need to weave his spells covertly. His treachery, as ordinary people might see it, is conducted unashamedly and openly. Ultimately he and fellow travellers may be hauled before a court, but on current establishment form, a knighthood is more likely.

[1] Later renamed KGB.

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