January 6, 2017

Don’t forget the good guys of Brexit

Don’t forget the good guys of Brexit

Matthew Elliott and Peter Cruddas were vital to last year’s Brexit campaign. Without them the country would not have voted to leave the European Union, says Richard Patient.  

We heard this week that the team behind Farage, ‘the bad boys of Brexit”, are selling their story to an American film company.  “It will be a comedy” says their spokesman.

Farage was one of those, before Christmas, chosen by the good people at Conservative Home as their five who made Brexit happen.  Steve Baker MP garnered the support of the critical Conservative base and made the government give concessions on purdah; Victoria Woodcock, the ops director of Vote Leave, recruited and squashed the numerous campaign staff into one tiny office on the seventh floor of Westminster Tower and made sure they were all compliant; Gisela Stuart MP, the chair of Vote Leave, gave stunning performances as the spokesperson for Leave and brought a Germanic twist to the vote; and Daniel Hannan.

All these people deserved their place on the ConHome list because all were very much instrumental in ensuring it was a 52:48 vote in favour of leaving.  It could so easily have been the other way around had these people not operated in the full knowledge that they were there to make it acceptable to vote leave, and do everything to increase the marginal vote.

The five were joined by Michael Gove, named as the Leave Campaigner of the Year, narrowly piping Boris to the prize.

But these lists leave out two people, without whom none of this would have happened.  Gove and Boris are unlikely to have campaigned for leave if there hadn’t been a sensible campaign to join; Gisela would not have gone over the parapet with such persuasive force if she hadn’t been recognised as a key asset; Victoria Woodcock would perhaps still be in the civil service; and Steve Baker and Daniel would be wishing Farage hadn’t won the Electoral Commission contest and been the lead spokesman on all the referendum debates.

The Brexit books tend to suggest that it was Hannan who persuaded one of these two people, Matthew Elliott, to join him in campaigning for an Out vote. Hannan met Elliott in the garden of Rodney Leach in the summer of 2012 says Tim Shipman’s All Out War.

But actually, Matthew’s decision to be the ‘good guy’ to put this together was taken after midnight on the Friday morning of May 5th 2011.  That was the day he won the AV referendum, and the venue was the ExCel centre in London.  If he didn’t know it beforehand, he knew then that he had the credibility, the knowledge and the wherewithal to mount the campaign to win the most exciting contest there would be in his generation.

He was with the other of these two people that night to take that decision, Peter Cruddas, who had been made Treasurer of the No2AV campaign just three months beforehand; Cruddas was taking the first steps from being a highly successful City entrepreneur to the world of politics, and he loved it.

Matthew always operates by research and just a few months after that 2011 AV referendum, he was already building up his war chest for serious research on the EU. His No2AV campaign was based, against all advice, on cost and the NHS.  His research showed him their best chance for leave was to repeat that campaign, just on a larger scale.

Although Matthew has a vast array of experience, from setting up the Taxpayers Alliance, Big Brother Watch, and even working for Bill Cash’s European Foundation in the nineties, he was still viewed in some quarters as an unbeliever and not the right person to lead the decades-old Eurosceptic war.  But over several years, Matthew was able to convince a growing army of business people that he was the right person to lead the charge.

Peter is the money man, who has grown to be a passionate advocate for a number of good causes.  Along with a deep association with the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the Prince’s Trust, he has donated to Great Ormond Street, and got into politics comparatively late in life.  During the referendum, Peter was one of only a handful of donors who joined the million pound club.

Peter was there right at the start, and stayed until right to the end, always having Matthew’s back.  Peter gave business expertise to both Business for Britain and Vote Leave, and was Matthew’s most passionate backer in the years up to the referendum (as well as during the campaign itself). Peter brought stability and credibility to the organisations as well as financial muscle, and the designation of Vote Leave was due in no small part to his involvement.

Without Matthew, and without Peter, the referendum would probably still have happened.  But without these two, we would not have had the successful campaign we had.  Matthew and Peter didn’t make every minute decision – they left that to people like Dominic Cummings, and (to name a few in no particular order) Georgiana Bristol, Oliver Lewis, Tom Borwick, Michael Dowsett, Sam Frost, Alex Hickman, Helen Mayer, Anne Sutherland, Dewyne Lindsay, Julie Moody, William Norton, John O’Connell, Robert Oxley, Stephen Parkinson, Lee Rotherham, James Starkie, Paul Stephenson, Stephen Talbot and Victoria Woodcock. But Matthew Elliott and Peter Cruddas ensured the smooth running of the campaign, and made the fundamental decision, back in May 2011 – to set up a campaign that would win.

I wonder who will play them in the film?

4.26 avg. rating (85% score) - 19 votes
Richard Patient
Richard Patient
A former aide to Ted Heath, Richard is the Founder and Managing Director of the property communications consultancy, Thorncliffe. He played an active role in last year’s Brexit campaign, serving as London Chairman of Vote Leave’s business arm, Business for Britain. During the campaign he delivered a host of speeches and key note addresses to a range of business audiences right across the capital.
  • Latimer Alder

    From Labour’s perspective she has two disadvantages

    a. Like Mrs Farage she is German

    b. Like Mrs Thatcher she is a girlie

    Both are the kiss of death for the xenophobic comrades

  • derek

    Because the Labour party pays only lip-service to equality, it is not a meritocracy in the way the Tories are.

  • Helen Smith

    Certainly their leaflet was rubbish. Leave.EU’s was good, Labour Leave’s was brilliant.

  • Helen Smith

    Why is Gisela not Labour’s leader? That would set the cat among the pigeons.

  • Helen Smith

    Yep, a lot of us kippers manning the Vote Leave street stalls.

  • Mojo

    I also made up my mind to vote Leave well before the Referendum was given. I have been wanting to have the opportunity of a vote for about four years. Hahahha!!!! I did a lot of campaigning for Leave.eu because I felt the future of our grandchildren was far too precious and important to treat lightly. I understand your comments about Mr Farage and I believe most who were put off him were listening too much to the MSM. I did meet him some years ago and found him to be respectful, humble and extremely honest and knowledgeable about the EU. It was this meeting that confirmed my own concerns about the EU. I do agree that between us all we actually achieved the almost impossible bearing in mind there were no real arguments put forward to encourage us to stay in the EU. The scare mongering may work with some but I found during campaigning that overwhelmingly people were extremely angry about what they perceived as an insult to their understanding and intelligence. I did however, think if the two Leave campaigns could have worked together the result would have been decisive enough to stop this depressing and relentless fight against democracy from people who really should know better.

    I was also most disappointed at how many young people we talked too genuinely thought we were leaving Europe and didn’t know what the European Union actually did. Living on the edge of a university town with many students coming to talk to us, this was a real shock.

  • Lamia

    I know several people who were put off Leave by Farage. I respect his tenacity and I condemn the threats and attacks on him and his family, but he while he helped in some respects, in others he alienated. Personally I had come to my decision to vote to Leave the EU in the early months of 2016, and was not swayed by politicians on either side, though I think Stuart and Ledsom did a great job at calmly putting the Leave case in the face of overwhelming BBC/Channel 4/Sky hostility. In any case, there were millions of different people on the Leave side, and together we did it.

  • blingmun

    Nothing to do with thousands of ordinary men and women braving the rain to put leaflets through doors. Thank you Matthew Elliott, it was definitely the £350m slogan wot won it.

  • Sgt_Bilko

    I was reading this and thinking what a load of cobblers, but then it all made sense when I read the author was a “former aide to Ted Heath”. I still think the vote to leave was won in spite of Vote Leave. All the real running was done by the Banks and Farage.

  • Muttley

    Dissections of who achieved what are probably embarrassing for Conservative Eurosceptic MPs, as their failure to achieve anything meaningful for 40 years has been painfully laid bare by Farage’s success in getting a referendum. Having said which, some Eurosceptic MPs finally stepped up and achieved some vital wins in Parliament during the campaign which Farage couldn’t have done from outside – the imposition of the purdah period of using the machinery of government to campaign for Remain, the neutrality of the Conservative Party in constituencies and the rejection of extending the vote to 16 year olds, for example.

    So, once Farage had done the heavy lifting, there was a team effort from Brexiteers.

    But the biggest plaudits go the the British people, who seized their chance and did the necessary.

  • Debs

    I voted on Conservative home for Gisela .She was stupendous and so was Andrea .But I don’t care about the post mortems.Leave won and I’m still ecstatic .Now can we just get on with it.

  • Mojo

    This is so ingenuous because Nigel Farage and leave.eu was most definitely the driving force. No one is taking away how good Gisela or Andrea were. But Leave.eu should have won the official Leave campaign banner. On top of that Vote Leave should have worked closely with Leave.eu and they should have been honest enough to support Nigel Farage over his poster. There was nothing rascist about it and yet all the Tory campaigners ganged up and treated him appallingly. For me that showed how little they believed in their own rhetoric. If the two sides had worked together I.e. The posh boys and the country boys the referendum would have been overwhelming and the Remain camp would have been kicked into the long grass. We could have changed the complexion of Westminster and by now we could be walking away from EU. Instead we had a disgraceful mess with the Tories allowing an unelected leader to become the Brexiteers chief negotiator. Not a good start and showed yet again their heart was not in the fight because they really did not know the feeling in the Country or Wales. Nigel Farage on the other hand had spent many years slogging up and down the UK, talking sense, getting people to think about their country and their grand children’s futures. Where were the Westminster eurosceptics all this time. Some were batting for us but many just didn’t have the stamina to stand away from the crowd. Nigel Farage and his family have been abused, threatened and slandered by the MSM and many MPs and yet he stood by the truth and the country. That is the very simple reason why the majority of the 17.4 million will never accept the the Tories won for us. Whether they love or loathe UKIP they acknowledge that their work has to be recognised and rewarded.

  • It doesn’t really matter who the “top 5” or whatever were. All the heroes of Brexit deserve plaudits, from the high-profile spokespeople to the lowliest street campaigner, we came together and took our once-in-a-lifetime shot at freedom. And by working together, we won. All of us together.

  • Felt

    They won nothing. They were all simply Tory stooges. The man that forced and won the referendum, against all the odds, MSM attacks and an establishment keen to keep the Leave campaign under their control was Farage and the ‘Bad boys of Leave. They were and are wot won !

  • Countrywatch

    Very well said.

  • Ross

    leave.eu were the bad boys – but also the good boys – they turned out the grassroots vote – Cummings and Elliot appeared to be in it for their careers but Banksy was in it for his country – but lets not argue over it – and “just Rejoice” at the result to quote a prime minister past

  • obbo12

    The best I can come up with is comment by someone who was forced to resign as Gove’s spad because of an argument with May. How is that tinfoil hat fitting

  • TheRightToArmBears

    Well said.
    Anyone who touched Ted Heath either became an EU time-server or got thrown overboard into the sea off Jersey when he’d finished with them.

  • TheRightToArmBears

    Is that the best you can come up with?
    You hoping for a job as a SpAd in May’s Keep-Us-In cabinet?

  • obbo12

    The oppinion of the person that won doesn’t count, hmm ok I’m a Nigerian prince and I need your help getting my money out of the country, please send me your bank account details.

  • geordieboy

    Forget the post mortems Leave won end of.

  • rustybear

    What utter tosh. Elliot, Cummings et al were Lords Manchester and Essex to leave.eu’s Cromwell. Establishment hedge bets who lied as much as remains project fear. It’s in their DNA.

  • DavidMurphy57

    The self-serving opinions of Dominic Cummings and other establishment lackey Tory boys count for nothing. The public voted the Leave despite them.

  • obbo12
  • obbo12
  • DavidMurphy57

    It was Vote Leave that came up with the ridiculous £350 million for the NHS scam. Nobody bought this damaging lie. Thankfully, the majority of the British people saw through the fake establishment front that was Vote Leave, and voted with their conscience to quit the EU.

  • TheRightToArmBears

    The Tory party put up Vote Leave as a fall-back option in case their remain strategy failed. The declared intention outlined for a successful Vote Leave campaign and victory would be to use a win as a mandate to re-negotiate a second ‘deal’ on the lines of Dave’s miserable deal, to then announce it triumphantly as a British success to keep Britain shackled inside the EU.

    This is why Vote Leave refused to unite with Leave.EU and UKIP. They knew their deceitful agenda would be exposed for the sham it really was. Gove and Johnson refused to appear with Farage for the same reason and because they did not want to give him any public airtime.

    Brexit was won in spite of all those in Vote Leave, not because of them. The author of this piece worked for Ted Heath. That should tell you everything you need to know about where his loyalties lie, in Brussels, not this country.

  • ratcatcher11

    It was also those who operated outside the Brussels financed MSM and wrote the truth about the EU and how they operate and the terrible results, that also succeeded in convincing people to look at what Remain would mean in reality and look beyond the lies Brussels put out via the BBC and the UK government. In other words it was a joint effort not simply from any narrow group in London.

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