Remain-supporting Prime Minister Theresa May has instructed a top civil servant to set up a new EU team outside Brexit-supporting David Davis’s already weakened Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU).
Oliver Robbins left as Permanent Secretary of the Leave campaigner’s department amid reports of a feud, with Robbins attempting to freeze Davis out of key decisions.
“Part of the problem was that [Robbins] tends to go and do stuff, not necessarily by reference to David, and that irritated him,” a source suggested.
The bureaucrat — said to be “unbelievably close” to May, who worked with him at the Home Office before becoming Prime Minister — will now instead head a “major Whitehall power base” outside DexEU.
The move can be expected to further denude Davis’s team, which had already lost 124 employees — more than 20 per cent — in the 14 months to August 18th 2017, according to a Freedom of Information request.
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) September 27, 2017
Robbins is said to have collaborated closely with counterparts in Brussels and EU capitals to formulate the concessionary promises which Theresa May made to the bloc in her Florence speech, with senior eurocrats who saw her commitments in draft before even the Cabinet gloating that they “pretty much dictated” some of them.
The civil servant was recently exposed as an admirer of the old Soviet Union, which wielded an even greater degree of control over its constituent states than the European Union of the present day.
“I would never disagree that some of the deeds done in the name of communism were evil, but it is as well to look at the era’s aims and achievements … the making of a state, a world power indeed, and one that its people could be proud of,” he once wrote.
“The Soviet leaders changed Russia from a backward peasant autocracy, despised by the West, into a technological giant at whom the world cowered in fear for half a century.”