Cambridge University Accused of Sweeping Pro-Brexit Article Under the Rug

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND - MAY 31: <> on May 31, 2017 in Cambridge, England. Six Leaders of the Seven political parties campaigning in the General Election joined Amber Rudd of the Conservative Party to take part in the BBC Leader's Debate this evening. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn announced he would attend …
Carl Court/Getty Images

Cambridge University has been accused of stifling pro-Brexit opinions by an honorary Fellow, who claimed that the university refused to publish an article arguing against the fearmongering from academia about the pro-sovereignty movement.

Sir Noel Malcolm, who serves as an honorary Fellow at three Cambridge colleges, said that the university refused to publish an article in 2019 on the merits of leaving the European Union.

Malcolm said that he decided to reveal the censorious nature of Cambridge after academics at the university claimed Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope is “committed to championing freedom of expression”.

Sir Noel’s article on Brexit aimed to debunk some of the “alarmist” pro-Remain articles on the website produced by the left-leaning Russell Group, which represents 24 universities throughout Britain, including Cambridge.

“Cambridge had a special section of its website devoted to articles on Brexit — almost all of them hostile,” he told The Telegraph.

“An official told me that those with ‘current links to Cambridge’ could publish on it, and I am an honorary fellow of three Cambridge colleges, but my article was refused.”

“I realised that they would say almost anything to justify not publishing my article,” he said, adding: “They forced me to come to the conclusion that they did not want to publish anything that was implicitly pro-Brexit.”

“Brexit, obviously, was rather a special issue which people had very strong views about, and the overwhelmingly dominant view in academia was anti-Brexit,” Sir Noel said.

“But one looks to universities, above all, to sustain values, not just of free speech, but the values of reasoned argument, which involve accepting facts and logical reasons put forward by people you disagree with, in defence of positions you may disagree with.”

A spokesman for Cambridge denied that their actions represented a breach of free expression, claiming that the EU section on their website was “not [an] open publishing platform and nor was it intended as a forum for debate. It was primarily a place for practical Brexit information and guidance for current staff and students.

“It contained an ‘analysis’ section where active researchers at the University could showcase work that related to both Brexit and their area of study. We exercised no political judgments in deciding on the content of the site and the EU pages carried analysis reflecting divergent standpoints.

“While Sir Noel is an honorary Fellow at several Cambridge colleges, this did not qualify him to have his article published on this website, so we suggested his article might be better aimed at the University of Oxford, where he is both an active researcher and a faculty member.”

It is not the first time that Cambridge University has been accused of shutting down pro-Brexit arguments. Last year, research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Radomir Tylecote, had planned to give a lecture entitled “The classical liberal case against the EU” at the school.

However, Cambridge refused to host the lecture, telling Tylecote: “We’re looking for something a bit more mainstream.”

A 2020 report from the Policy Exchange think tank found that many campuses in the UK had become a “hostile environment” for pro-Brexit students. The report found that just 39 per cent of pro-Brexit students felt comfortable sharing their opinions on campus, as opposed to 89 per cent for those in favour of remaining in the European Union.

The former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, said at the time: “No one fought for diversity and inclusion in order to create universities staffed by a faculty who may look representative, but are to all intents and purposes, intellectually identical robots.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.