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From Boris Johnson to Sarah Vine: the Brexiters about to seize power | Politics | The Guardian

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Several prominent figures in the referendum battle are now very close to power after Cameron’s resignation

LIKELY NEXT PRIME MINISTER

BORIS JOHNSON
MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip

It is now not just possible, but probable, that Johnson will replace David Cameron as prime minister before the Conservative autumn conference. Some MPs believe that there should be a coronation rather than a contest. If that doesn’t transpire, it is still difficult to see beyond Johnson for PM, as long as he is one of the two candidates chosen by Tory MPs to put before the Conservative membership.

The former mayor of London was the target of concerted personal attacks from figures within the Remain camp during the campaign, including the energy secretary, Amber Rudd. She infamously suggested during a debate that, while Johnson was the “life and soul of the party”, he wasn’t a man you’d trust to drive you home.

And he may still be weighed down by incidents in his colourful past, including extra-marital affairs and giving advice to a friend who was planning to beat up a journalist.

“My wife says she will divorce me if I support Boris,” said one MP, voicing the doubts that many feel. “But I think it would be fun. Maybe it would be too much fun.”

CONSIGLIERE AND IDEOLOGUE

MICHAEL GOVE
Justice secretary

A favourite among the Tory membership, and could put in a decent challenge to replace David Cameron, but it is believed the justice secretary is being genuine when he says that he doesn’t have any interest in the role. It is more likely that Johnson as prime minister would appoint Gove as his chancellor and consigliere.

He is expected to play a key role in negotiations with the European commission about the terms of Brexit.

POLEMICIST

SARAH VINE
Daily Mail columnist

Vine and her husband, Michael Gove, were once close friends with David and Samantha Cameron. Since Gove’s demotion from the role of education secretary ahead of the general election, Vine has taken pleasure in wielding her pen to the PM’s disadvantage. She wrote a major piece in the Mail in favour of Brexit and her column is a regular source of barbs aimed at those who cross her husband.

FINANCIAL EXPERT

ANDREA LEADSOM
Leading Leave campaigner

She has impressed some during the campaign, during which she was a leading light of the Leave team. She is a relatively junior minister for energy and climate change, but some believe there is leadership potential in the MP for South Northamptonshire. Leadsom worked in the city as a corporate banker before embarking on her political career, so may also prove to be an alternative option for Johnson as his chancellor. However, she was accused of lying during a debate by the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson after claiming: “The truth is, 60% of our rules and regulations comes from the European Union.”

Andrea Leadsom at the ITV referendum debate.
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Andrea Leadsom at the ITV referendum debate. Photograph: Matt Frost/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

STRATEGIST

MATTHEW ELLIOTT
Vote Leave chief executive

A founder and former chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Elliott was the brains behind the Leave campaign’s strategy, along with Dominic Cummings. He insisted that he wanted to put forward a “positive” and “internationalist” vision for Brexit, but he wasn’t shy of attaching his name to quotes attacking uncontrolled immigration and speculating about the impact of Turkish migrants on the UK. Talking about the night of the Brexit poll, Elliott said: “When the polls came in at 10 o’clock and everybody was writing off Leave, we didn’t buy that.” He is known as an effective lobbyist, but there is likely to be a place in a Johnson Downing Street if he wants it.

‘MAN OF THE PEOPLE’

NIGEL FARAGE
Leader of Ukip

Even his harshest critics, and there are many, admit that Farage was a major figure in pushing the prime minister into even staging a referendum. He almost single-handedly turned the small party of Ukip into a genuine electoral force with 4 million votes at the general election, albeit still with just one MP. Without that electoral threat, Cameron would not have felt the need to make his promise. Farage’s role in the referendum campaign was typically controversial. Michael Gove admitted he “shuddered” on seeing Farage pose in front of a poster depicting refugees flocking on a winding road under the heading: Breaking point, but Farage was the first to point out that Vote Leave emulated his immigration rhetoric. Quite what his role will be from here on in is not clear. He has previously suggested that he admires Johnson. It is doubtful whether the admiration goes two ways. Nevertheless it is unlikely that the Ukip man is going to disappear.

UKIP MONEY MAN

ARRON BANKS
Donor

A former Tory donor, the businessman donated £6m to Ukip’s leave campaign, Leave.EU, he claimed on polling night. Asked by David Dimbleby why he had spent such a fortune, he said: “It is something I believe in. I believe we should bring our democracy back in to parliament.”

An aggressive businessman with a brash manner, he has had a poor relationship with the official campaign to take the UK out of the EU. He branded justice secretary Michael Gove as “disgraceful” and “toxic” after the cabinet minister was suspected of leaking the Queen’s views on Europe.

TEMPERAMENTAL TACTICAL GENIUS

DOMINIC CUMMINGS
Campaign director for Vote Leave

As ITV called the referendum for Leave, Cummings stood on a table, gave a roar and punched a panel out of the ceiling above him as colleagues in Vote Leave chanted his name. “That’s Dom,” said a source.

Cummings has never been far from controversy. Andy Coulson, who was then director of communications to the prime minister, blocked him from government as too independent and disruptive when Cameron first entered Downing Street. Yet when Coulson resigned, Cummings returned to the side of Gove at the Department for Education. He waged a war against Nick Clegg (calling him a “revolting character”), and caused uproar among civil servants due to his ill-concealed contempt for many of them. He was also to become a stern critic of David Cameron (whom he described as a “sphinx without a riddle”). During the EU referendum he clashed with a series of colleagues at Vote Leave, leading to a reprimand from his chief executive. But it is Cummings’s strategising that many say delivered Leave their extraordinary victory. He is said to be the man behind the “Take Back Control” slogan.

Dominic Cummings
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Dominic Cummings Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

FREE-MARKET GURU

PATRICK MINFORD
Chair of Economists for Brexit

Nine out of 10 economists may have supported Britain remaining in the European Union, but macroeconomist Patrick Minford has stood apart.

Minford, a supporter of the neoliberal theories of Milton Friedman, headed up Economists for Brexit, the eight-person group that claims the City of London will thrive, unemployment will fall and the trade deficit will narrow upon leaving the EU. Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted last year: “Professor Patrick Minford, a top economist, calculates that EU exit would bring the cost of living down immediately.”

Minford doesn’t believe the UK should be part of the single market. Instead, a post-Brexit Britain should opt to remove all barriers to imports, leading to cheaper food, less expensive goods and stronger growth. Genuine free trade, it is claimed, would provide a growth boost of 4% of GDP within five years while helping the UK emerge unscathed from the immediate post-referendum turbulence. It is yet to be seen whether Minford has the ear of the Brexit politicians set to take the reins of power.

LABOUR BREXITER

DREDA SAY MITCHELL
Writer

A rare ethnic minority female voice who called for the UK to leave the EU – although she refused to join Vote Leave. “I’m not leave with Farage – I’m leave with Dennis Skinner, and a handful of other brave Labour MPs,” she wrote in an article for the Guardian.

LABOUR LEAVE FINANCIER

JOHN MILLS
Donor

A brother-in-law to Tessa Jowell, and a major donor to Labour before Jeremy Corbyn became leader, Mills is pushing Labour to change its policy on immigration and will continue to do so. He claims the party has become too close to the metropolitan elite. “There has been growing dissatisfaction among traditional working-class Labour voters, especially in the north of England..

“This is part of a wider problem. Many of these Labour voters feel the party has left them behind and does not respect their priorities and values.,

“This referendum result is pivotal for Labour, and it must be a trigger point for change.” he said after the result.

FATHER OF THE MOVEMENT

BILL CASH MP
MP for Stone

He was once regarded as something of an angry pub bore, but in recent days the veteran MP has morphed into an elder statesman, taking a moment yesterday to “pay tribute” to both sides of the House and the people “who have taken a principled stand”. But, as a figurehead of the Eurosceptic movement in the Conservative party, his intentions with regard to the Tory leadership couldn’t be clearer. “Whoever takes over [from David Cameron] … that person, I’m quite sure, will be a very, very clearly defined Brexiteer,” he told the BBC.

Bill Cash.
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Bill Cash. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

KEY LABOUR LEAVER

GISELA STUART
MP for Birmingham Edgbaston

The German-born MP has emerged as a powerful voice in the Leave campaign and a counterpoint in the party to Jeremy Corbyn’s liberal views on immigration. It is expected that she will have a role to play in negotiations with the European commission over the terms for Brexit. Her views on the EU were shaped by the experience of being appointed as one of the UK parliamentary representatives to the European convention, which was tasked with drawing up a new constitution for the European Union in 2001.

TRUE-BLUE RIGHTWINGER

PRITI PATEL
Employment minister

The former lobbyist caused a stir during the referendum campaign by suggesting the British economy would benefit from a cutting back of employment rights. She has also previously endorsed the return of capital punishment. In 2012 she was one of the so-called “young guns” from the new right of the party who called for a culture of “graft, risk and effort” to project Britain into the “super league” of nations.

COMMENTATOR/ACTIVIST

TIM MONTGOMERIE
Times columnist

A former adviser to Iain Duncan Smith, Montgomerie was eager for Rupert Murdoch’s paper to come out in favour of Leave. He expressed his disappointment in diplomatic but unmistakable terms when it went the other way. He is co-founder of the Centre for Social Justice, creator of the ConservativeHome site and describedseen as one of the most important Tory activists around.

TABLOID FRIEND

PAUL DACRE
Editor of the Daily Mail

Within the Mail stable of newspapers there has been an internal row over the referendum, in which Dacre has emerged more powerful for backing the winning campaign. The Mail on Sunday’s editor, Geordie Greig, plumped for supporting continued EU membership. Greaves is set to move to the daily. And Dacre’s vehement voice is probably only going to get stronger within and outside the organisation. It recently emerged that Dacre benefited from at least £88,000 in EU subsidies for his houses in Sussex and the Scottish Highlands in 2014.

FREE-MARKET GURU

RUTH LEA
Economics adviser

An adviser to Arbuthnot Banking Group, and formerly economics editor at ITN, Lea regularly appears on TV as a talking head on economics from a free-market position. Her preference is for the UK to join the European Free Trade Association of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and hers will be an influential voice.

Sorgente: From Boris Johnson to Sarah Vine: the Brexiters about to seize power | Politics | The Guardian

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