May’s Brexit Negotiator Olly Robbins Handed a Knighthood

Oliver "Olly" Robbins, the Prime Minister Theresa May's Europe Adviser, leaves from 10 Downing Street in London on March 14, 2019, ahead of a further Brexit vote. - British MPs will vote today on whether to ask the European Union for an extension to the March 29 Brexit deadline, with …
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Former Prime Minister Theresa May’s adviser Oliver Robbins has been handed a knighthood, despite the Brexit deal he assisted crafting being rejected three times in the House of Commons.

Prince William knighted the former Brexit negotiator a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for his supposed public service on Tuesday. Mrs May had named the civil servant in her resignation honours list late last year.

The honour proved controversial, given Mr Robbins, now titled Sir Olly, was blamed not only for the failure of May’s deal to pass but was accused of attempting to block the United Kingdom from leaving the EU.

“I would have thought a Legion d’honneur would have been more appropriate for his services to the European Union,” a Conservative MP said in September when it was announced the career bureaucrat would be honoured with a knighthood.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had accused the Civil Service of trying to thwart Brexit, saying in October 2018 during May’s talks with the bloc: “The problem I’m afraid is there is a rogue element in these negotiations. A group of people who do not wish to see a solution, who put up an immovable brick wall to stop us from breaking free. I regret to say it isn’t your chief negotiator Monsieur Barnier, it is actually the British civil service, Olly Robbins’ team.

“They signed up years ago to the European dream, they have been happy to take their orders from Brussels, they are now out to sabotage Brexit. They are indeed the enemy within.”

In February 2019, it was reported that Robbins had told others at a bar in Brussels that MPs were to accept Mrs May’s unpopular Brexit deal, or face seeing Brexit delayed.

Indeed, May delayed Britain’s exit from the EU three times — from March 29th to October 31st — because lawmakers rejected her exit agreement.

Earlier that month Brexiteer MP Esther McVey accused Sir Olly of being one of a cadre of Remainers close to Theresa May who focused on negotiating as a close of a relationship as possible with the EU rather than planning a successful exit.

Olly Robbins was not the only controversial anti-Brexit figure to be handed a knighthood. In 2017, former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was made a Sir in the New Year’s honours list, while veteran Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage was snubbed.

Last month, Tory Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen MP called for Mr Farage to be given a knighthood, along with anti-Brexit Conservative Ken Clarke, as part of the post-Brexit “healing process”.

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