Almost six months on from the EU referendum, we present a mini-series on five people who helped to shape the result.
Some people believe that the Remain and Leave campaigns, official and unofficial, made no real difference to the referendum result – and nor did, say, the wording of the question, or the kicking-in of purdah. Britain was always going to vote Out.
That this view can’t be disproved doesn’t make it convincing. An ICM poll showed that a Yes/No question was four per cent better for Remain. Leave campaigners took a pounding before purdah kicked in. The nature of the battlefield helps to decide the outcome.
Bernard Jenkin caused the Government real trouble over purdah as Chairman of the Public Administration Committee. Graham Brady led the campaign to ensure that the Conservative Party stayed officially neutral. Chris Grayling and Theresa Villiers forced David Cameron’s hand over allowing pro-Leave Ministers to campaign with having to resign.
All these efforts helped to reduce Remain’s institutional advantage. But Tim Shipman’s All Out War gives pride of price to my successor as MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker, who had charge of Conservatives for Britain’s drive on purdah.
There were plenty of pro-Brexit MPs more senior, such as John Redwood and Bill Cash; or more front-of-house, such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. But Baker played a crucial part in shaping the referendum’s terms of trade. So he makes our top five.