Once, twice, third time lucky. “The Leave Campaign needs a non-Conservative to lead it. Preferably a woman,” I wrote just before Christmas. “Perhaps even a non-Brit. Gisela Stuart is thus perfectly qualified.”
In January, I had another push. “Where is Gisela Stuart,” I asked, “a convinced Eurosceptic with real knowledge of the issue, as a former UK Parliamentary Representative to the European Convention that produced the European Constitution?”
So I’m happy to be able to write, this third time round, that earlier reports this week were correct, and that Stuart is to chair the board of Vote Leave, and jointly oversee its campaigning work with Michael Gove.
As a Tory, I’m disappointed that she has turned Birmingham Edgbaston from a Conservative seat into a Labour-held one, at least for the time being (though there have also been demographic changes at work that have helped her). Last May, it wasn’t even a target seat.
But as a Brexiteer, I know that Stuart will be a formidable ally in a campaign that may well turn on what Labour voters do. And while it’s pleasing for an appointment we called for to be made, I believe that it would have happened anyway, such is the respect with which she’s regarded in Parliament.