Press Releases | McDonnell: Government takes Cold War approach to academic expertise on EU

McDonnell: Government takes Cold War approach to academic expertise on EU

SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell, has criticised the British Government’s decision to use the expertise of only academics who are British nationals in its preparation for negotiations with the European Union. Up to nine experts of EU affairs at the London School of Economics had been advising and briefing the Foreign Office but the university officials reported that they received an e-mail, detailing that submissions on Brexit authored by non-UK nationals would no longer be accepted.

Dr McDonnell said: “Many of us were deeply disturbed by the xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric used at the Conservative Party Conference this week. Perhaps it is not surprising that the Government is taking their lead with this policy of ‘British jobs for British people’.

“There is a suggestion that the Foreign Office has introduced this policy in order to avoid sensitive material relating to Article 50 negotiations being leaked but these excuses ring hollow.

“This Cold War era suspicion of foreign nationals not only risks jeopardising negotiations with the European Union, it is deeply insulting to the professionalism and integrity of these academics and reeks of xenophobia.

“Until a few days ago, these academics were considered key experts in EU affairs and policy by the Foreign Office. It now appears that the Foreign Office no longer requires their expertise solely on the basis of their nationality.

“It seems that the Government’s full embrace of populist anti-immigration policies takes precedent over aquiring the best expertise possible as they navigate the unchartered waters of leaving the European Union.”

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