Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s notes | 20 October 2016

Also in the Spectator’s Notes: French seductions for bankers, Labour anti-Semitism, BBC fees and global warming fears

Vote Leave was the most successful electoral campaign in British history. Against the opposition of all three political parties, it won, achieving the largest vote for anything in this country, ever. But voting to leave is only the essential start, not the fulfilment, and now there is no Vote Leave. After victory, the campaign’s leaders went their various ways. Some were lulled into a false sense of security by Mrs May’s clear declaration of Brexit intent, and by the fact that one of their top colleagues, Stephen Parkinson, is now installed in 10 Downing Street. Nick Timothy, now all-powerful in Mrs May’s counsels, was running the New Schools Network during the campaign. Its offices are in Westminster Tower, the same building as Vote Leave, and he used to drop in and smile benignly on its proceedings. So, after the result, the campaign has friends in high places. But since Mrs May had been a Remainer and David Cameron had forbidden any preparatory work on the Leave option, no one inside the system knew what to do next. Government departments, the Bank of England, the BBC and, of course, the chancelleries of Europe, have undergone no ‘de-Ba’athification’. Although they lost, they have it in their power to shape the process against the result voted for and throw spanners in the works they are charged with operating. Since the end of the party conference season, this has been happening, and their stories and scares have dominated the airwaves. Two organisations — Change Britain and the website Brexit Central — have spun out of Vote Leave, but neither seems well placed to do the job now required. I have written before that something — working title, The 17.4 Million Committee — needs to be created to campaign every day. It would challenge every false claim made about what happens next and produce its own data, stories and policy suggestions to keep pushing the argument forward.

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