Fury as author Frederick Forsyth dubs civil service ‘treacherous’ over Brexit

Bestseller writer suggests 90% of staff backed Remain and urges them to quit if they cannot deliver the EU referendum result impartially

Angry – Dave Penman. Credit: CSW

By Jim.Dunton

15 Jun 2018

Best-selling author Frederick Forsyth has been accused of being out of touch and incapable of comprehending the impartial ethos of the civil service after describing it as a bastion of treachery in relation to Brexit.

Forsyth, whose bestsellers include Day of the Jackal and the Fourth Protocol, wrote in a newspaper column that it “was probably fair to estimate that 90% of the bureaucracy are in favour of staying in and subservient to the EU” and described remain advocates on the public payroll as “treacherous”.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants and other public sector leaders, said Forsyth’s attack in the Daily Express was the latest example of a shortsighted inability to understand the depth of Whitehall’s public-service ethic.


“Once again we have political ‘commentators’ who simply cannot comprehend how civil servants can serve a government with impartiality regardless of their personal political beliefs,” Penman said.

“They cannot comprehend it because they would be incapable of acting in this way themselves. That they project this failing onto civil servants says more about them than it does the civil service.

“Thankfully, civil servants are getting on with the job in hand in quite extraordinary circumstances, given the lack of clear political direction.

“Attacks such as these on the integrity and impartiality of the civil service only serve to undermine our government, political system and ability to deliver the best outcome from the Brexit negotiations. It’s all the more ironic that it comes cloaked in a flag of patriotism.”

I know he makes stuff up for a living but this nonsense, with stats just plucked from the air, reads almost like a parody sketch from the Fast Show. Once again ‘true patriots’ undermining the very fabric of our system of government. https://t.co/m5OUg9BWOw

— Dave Penman (@FDAGenSec) June 15, 2018

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, HM Treasury staff, chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins, and even High Court judges have been repeatedly accused of seeking to undermine the decision delivered in the referendum.

In April Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood felt compelled to publicly voice his support for Robbins after newspaper reports that Brexit secretary David Davis had called on prime minister Theresa May to sack him.

Forsyth’s column today concluded by saying: “To remain in the people’s employ while doing all in one’s power to deny them what they have clearly voted for is, frankly, self-serving, disloyal and treacherous.

“Those passionately seeking to reverse our national decision should leave our payroll and put their own breakfast on the table from their own pockets.”

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