“Hovering at entrance to the 30,000-square-foot ballroom, we are surprised to bump into David Cameron’s former policy chief Steve Hilton, now US-based. He greets us exuberantly but his wife Rachel Whetstone looks like she’s swallowed a fly. She warms up when Hoey gets her talking about Brexit, saying she supports Out and wishes she could do more for the cause. Hilton keeps his powder dry but I know he was deeply unimpressed by Obama’s intervention in the debate.”
So wrote Isabel Oakeshott in a Washington Diary for this site recently. She was on the money. Hilton was indeed keeping his powder dry, but today is out for Brexit with all guns blazing.
“The EU has become the institutional manifestation of almost everything I argue against in my book, More Human,” he writes in today’s Daily Mail. It’s well worth reading the whole article, but at its core is this zinger of a sentence.
“These are issues that a reformed EU might address. I could certainly live with an imperfect EU that nevertheless showed some willingness towards dispersing, rather than centralising, power. But it is perfectly obvious to everyone, including Mr Cameron, that no such reorientation will ever be countenanced.”
Hilton thus makes the same case against the Prime Minister’s deal that Christopher Howarth sets out this morning, in the opening piece of his series on ConservativeHome.
Cameron’s former head of strategy was at the very heart of the modernising project. He was integral to the small team that worked for the Prime Minister’s election as party leader in 2005. Whatever one’s view of Hilton – and this site believes that a lot of Coalition reform wouldn’t have happened without him – he cannot simply be written off as some crusty reactionary. Downing Street will feel sore but, given Hilton’s radical disposition, not at all surprised. Over here, we salute the ultimate moderniser for Brexit.