A Conservative MP stirred a stir in the British academic world by asking how the Brexit issue was tackled in higher education institutions in the country, raising fears of a form of censorship.
In a letter sent to all the universities in the country, Chris Heaton-Harris asked the different rectors if they would “kindly provide him with the names of the professors responsible for courses on European affairs and Brexit in particular ” as well as the “Program taught in each institution “.
The missive in the tone of the most polite and innocent did not fail to cause the suspicion and anger of academics: they immediately detected an attempt to undermine the freedom of education on the part of a notorious Eurosceptic and fervent “Brexiter“.
Shouting at the censorship, they even denounced an initiative with strong hints of witch hunt McCarthyste. The letter has been criticized even in the ranks of the conservative party: Lord Patten, Chancellor of the prestigious University of Oxford did not hesitate to speak of a letter ” stupid and shocking “.
As for the services of the Prime Minister Theresa May, they quickly separated from the member saying that he had sent this letter in his own name and not as a member of the government. Chris Heaton-Harris reacted to the storm on Twitter saying ” believe in free speech and an open debate on Brexit “. However, he still did not explain why he wanted so much to have this list in his hands.
To be absolutely clear, I believe in free speech in our universities and in having an open and vigorous debate on Brexit.
— Chris Heaton-Harris (@chhcalling) October 24, 2017