Brexit : The Players

Every great tragedy has it’s players. Since many of the articles here on Brexit24 refer to some of these people, it makes sense for this page to provide a snapshot bio of the main participants in the Brexit debate. As they say on the TV talent shows, “in no particular order…”

David Cameron

Former Prime Minsiter, Conservative Party

I was the future, once

David Cameron
David Cameron (pictured above) is credited with rebranding the Conservative Party by taking it from it’s “nasty party” roots towards the centre ground of politics.

He failed to win an outright majority in his first term and instead, governed in a coalition with the Liberals.

During this time, he offered the devolved Scottish Government a Referendum on Independence, which he came close to losing and would have caused the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Cameron’s fateful second term

Cameron did win his second term with a very slim majority of just 12 seats. A manifesto commitment included a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (which he had  enshrined into law during his first term). He delivered on that promise with the referendum held on June 23rd of the same year, the famous “Brexit” Referendum.

It’s generally accepted that Cameron hoped to spike the guns of the increasingly popular UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader, Nigel Farage. He went to Brussels to negotiate “a new deal” for the UK, then returned and launched his campaign to convince the British Public to remain in the European Union. He failed.


The morning after, despite having promised to remain, Mr Cameron promptly resigned whilst offering to remain in Downing Street in a caretaker capacity until his replacement was chosen in September 2016. Events overtook this timetable and Theresa May became the UK’s Prime Minister on 13th July, following Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal from the leadership race.

Nigel Farage

Former/Current UKIP Leader
Nigel Farage UKIP

Nigel Farage
© Twocoms /

I think that politics needs a bit of spicing up

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farrage is arguably one of Britain’s most intelligent and successful politicians, rising from near oblivion to the very peak of British politics in 23 years.

During this time, he railed against the European elites, claiming to represent ” the little people” whilst living very comfortably as a Euro MP based in Brussels.


UKIP : A shortage of Members of Parliament

UKIP’s performance, particularly in the European elections, made them a very strong force in UK domestic policy although it is fair to say that despite this strong showing, the Party only ever managed two Members of Parliament (who defected from the Conservatives,  resigned and stood for re-election as a UKIP candidate and won, the other (the fabulously named Mark Reckless) lost his seat at the last General Election).

Their performance in the European Parliament was 22 Euro-MP’s at the last election. Some of this poor showing domestically is due to the UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system. In the 2016 General Election, UKIP achieved 3,881,129 votes (12.6% of the votes cast), yet it won only one seat.

You’re not laughing now

Nigel Farage, European Parliament after Brexit vote in the UK

Nigel Farage never managed to get elected as a British MP. He did however, manage to put enough wind up David Cameron to get the Referendum made a reality. Mr Farage has resigned three times as leader of his Party, only to stand for it again – mainly down to the unpredictable behaviour of UKIP members.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove

Michael Gove
© Twocoms /

Former Education Secretary, Conservative

you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off

Sarah Vine
Michael Gove surprised David Cameron, a lifetime friend, by announcing he would campaign for the Leave movement at the start of the EU Referendum Campaign. Married to a prominent Daily Mail columnist, Sarah Vine, he is famous for his comment “people have had enough of experts”, when challenged during the EU debate.

people have had enough of experts

Sarah Vine is reported as telling her husband “you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off” – a quote from the Italian Job, where Michael Caine blows up a safe but in doing so blows the bank up too. These comments reinforce the belief that Gove, and possibly Boris Johnson, never expected to win the EU debate, but were using it as a vehicle to improve their career chances.

The Morning After

Mr Gove is also known for attempting to “knife” (politically) his friend and ally Boris Johnson, widely expected to be the next Prime Minister after the Brexit win, and announce his own candidacy to be Prime Minister. He was dropped unceremoniously in the first round of voting and therefore allowed Andrea Leadsom to become, briefly, the new Brexit candidate for Prime Minsiter.

Mr Gove has returned to his writing career and was not offered any position by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister.

Andrea Leadsom

Minister, Conservative Party
Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom
© UK Government

‘my ambition will be to guide our country to those sunlit uplands.’

Andrea Leadsom

Mrs Leadsom shot to fame during the EU Referendum debates, due in no small way to her excellent TV manner & her debating skills. Despite her lack of ministerial experience, she put herself forward as a candidate as new Party Leader (and therefore Prime Minister) following David Cameron’s resignation.

Last woman standing (almost)

Following the departure of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb from the leadership race, she found herself competing directly against Theresa May as the only other candidate to become Prime Minister. Mrs Leadsom was then the last pro-Brexit politician left standing and hence fervently backed by Brexiteer tories.

Mrs Leadsom’s lack of experience became apparent when in an interview with Rachel Sylvester of The Times newspaper, she criticized Theresa May for not being able to have children and said these words.

So, really carefully, because I am sure, I don’t really know Theresa very well but I am sure she will be really sad she doesn’t have children..

Andrea Leadsom © The Times
When The Times published this story, Mrs Leadsom (and some of her supporters) vehemently attacked The Times for fabricating the story – forcing the newspaper to publish the complete transcript and the tape. There were also issues regarding the veracity of her City experience.

Four days later, she withdrew from the leadership race, crowning Mrs May as Prime Minister as the last candidate standing. Mrs Leadsom was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs…

Boris Johnson

Foreign Secretary, Conservative
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson
© Chris Ioannou /

My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson had only recently completed two successful terms as Mayor of London when then EU Referendum kicked off.

A close friend of David Cameron, he also wrote a weekly column in the Sunday Telegraph and it is in that newspaper that Boris announced his intention to campaign for Leave.

It’s a widely held view that Boris was equivocal about the EU Referendum. Evidence has since emerged  (Sunday Times 16th October 2016) that he wrote two columns, one in favour one against leaving the EU, deciding which to publish at the last moment. Boris became the star performer of the Leave campaign, both at televised debates and at regular photo shoots in front of the Leave Campaign Bus.

Boris resigns as contender for PM

On the morning after the Referendum, Michael Gove declared Boris Johnson “unfit” for the role and Boris withdrew himself from the shortlist of candidates to replace David Cameron, only hours before a press conference to launch his campaign.

From the gutter to Foreign Secretary

One of Theresa May’s first appointments as Prime Minister, was to offer Boris the role of Foreign Secretary – an event that nearly broke the internet following his famous gaff’s about foreign politicians in his weekly Telegraph column. These included a limerick about bestiality performed by President Erdogan of Turkey and this about US Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton

 “She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.

Boris Johnson

The Campaign Bus

Brexit Bus

Brexit campaign bus

We send the EU £350m a week.

The Campaign bus – since discredited
The Campaign Bus achieved player status during the Referendum debate, crossing the country and providing a perfect media backdrop to the politicians onboard. Boris Johnson was regularly photographed in front of the bus grasping a Cornish Pasty, Fish & Chips or other “verified 100% British” products. Just imagine the media storm if a Croissant or a Danish Pastry were to be found onboard!

The claim for the £350m a week was hotly disputed by the Remain campaign and widely discredited. Nigel Farage wasted no time in abandoning the bus to it’s fate delcaring on ITV’s Good Morning Programme within hours of the result being known :

That was one of the mistakes made by the Leave campaign

Nigel Farage, UKIP
The bus was “rescued” by GreenPeace who parked it outside Westminster and changed the logo to TIME FOR TRUTH #comeclean on 18th July. The bus, which was manufactured in Germany, has now retired from political life, saying it wishes to spend more time with it’s family.
Here’s the video where Farage accepts that the claims on the bus were false :

Gisela Stuart

Labour MP

Gisela Stuart, MP
© UK Parliament

We now know [David Cameron] has been doing deals with businesses to exaggerate the risk of a vote by the UK to leave the EU

Gisela Stuart
Gisela Stuart is a German-born Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston who migrated to the United Kingdom in 1974, a year before the UK joined the (today) European Union.

Gisela was one of the few members of the Labour Party who joined the campaign and was more prominent in the Referendum debates than Jeremy Corbyn, her Party Leader.

Gisela accused David Cameron of forcing FTSE500 companies to show Brexit in their list of key risks for the future. These claims were based on a leaked letter from Rupert Soames, head of Serco to the Prime Minister. Ms Stuart told the Daily Mail :

There are serious issues for the Prime Minister to answer. We now know he has been doing deals with businesses to exaggerate the risk of a vote by the UK to leave the EU.

Gisela Stuart © Daily Mail


Dr. Liam Fox

Secretary of State for International Trade, Conservative.

Image : Dr Liam Fox
© Peter R Foster IDMA /

Dr. Fox joined Parliament as an MP in the 1992 General Election as Member of Parliament for Woodspring.

it might be too difficult or too time-consuming or because they can’t play golf on a Friday afternoon

In both 2005 & 2016 he has entered leadership races to become the Conservative Party leader, failing on both occasions.

and Adam Werrity..

David Cameron appointed Liam Fox as Secretary of State for Defence in 2010, a post he resigned on 14th October 2011 following allegations that he had broken Ministerial Code by allowing his close friend, Adam Werrity to participate in meetings with foreign dignitaries despite having no Government clearance. A report published in 2011 by the Ministry of Defence revealed that Mr Werrity was present at 57% of Dr Fox’s meetings during the period 20/5/2010 – 8/10/2011. In 2005 & 6 Fox used public money, from his expense claims as an MP to pay Adam Werrity.

Lazy and fat

In September 2016, Fox made a speech on international trade in which he implied that Britain’s low level of exports was due to businesspeople being “lazy and fat”.

David Davis

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
David Davis

David Davis
© Twocoms /

I’m not in the business of symbolism, I’m in the business of delivering

David Davis
David Davis was made Secretary of State for Brexit by Theresa May on July 13th 2016. He had stood against David Cameron in attempting to be the leader of the Conservative Party, coming top in the first round of voting. When Cameron won the top job, Davis returned to his job as Shadow Home Secretary.

David Davis resigned his position in the Shadow Cabinet and forced a by-election (which he won) as part of his campaign against Counter Terrorism legislation. He declined to return to the front benches and became a backbencher activist, winning many victories against his own Party on civil liberties and anti-terror legislation.

A staunch Eurosceptic, he is considered one the “Three Brexiteers” in Theresa May’s cabinet along with Liam Fox and Boris Johnson, described by a former colleague as :

three blind mice, stumbling around the world with inconsistent messages on how to leave the EU

Nick Herbert.

To his credit, Mr Davis has always staunchly defended the right of existing EU citizens to remain in the UK post-brexit, even when there has been a deafening silence from the Prime Minister on the subject.

Iain Duncan Smith

Former Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Conservative.
Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan-Smith

© Twocoms /

The quiet man is here to stay, and he’s turning up the volume

Iain Duncan Smith
Often known by his initials as “IDS”, Mr Duncan Smith was elected  Conservative Party Leader in September 2001, but he was dumped in 2003 and succeeded by Michael Howard.

IDS was appointed Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, where he achieved notoriety for radically overhauling the benefits system, including the Universal Credit scheme & Disability Allowance.


Duncan Smith surprised the Party by suddenly resigning his position on 19th May 2016, alleging disagreement to changes to the Personal Independence Payment. His move was widely considered an opportunistic attempt at “rebranding” ahead of the Referendum debate which was in it’s final eight weeks at that time.

He was not asked to join Theresa May’s new government in July 2016 and is now an active backbencher pushing the May government to invoke Brexit early and to take an aggressive stance with Brussels.

So, instead of us going over there with this kind of bended knee, special-pleading process, which frankly was one of the problems with the previous negotiation, you know we went around begging people to give us something and they all said no, rather than doing that we should be working on what we can all achieve together that benefits both of us.

Theresa May

Prime Minister, Conservative
Theresa May

Theresa May
© Twocoms /

You know what some people call us? – the nasty party

Theresa May
Mrs May was appointed as Home Secretary on 12th May 2010 by David Cameron, despite not having held the Shadow brief whilst in opposition.

The Home Office is generally considered a political graveyard in the United Kingdom, responsible for areas of policy that directly impact voters : immigration, law and order, the police etc. It is a credit to her resilience that Mrs May became the country’s longest serving Home Secretary to date.

Controversies as Home Secretary

Mrs May was a fierce critic of the Human Rights Act (imported from EU legislation: At the Party Conference in 2011 she used the (disavowed) example of a foreign national who was allowed to remain in the UK, “because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat“. In 2012 she was found in contempt of court for refusing to free an Algerian man from a UK detention centre. Perhaps her most famous tussle was the eventual deportation of Abu Qatada to Jordan which took from his arrest in 2002 (under Labour) which she finally achieved in April 2013.

Operation Vaken vans

Operation Vaken

May’s biggest political debacle came when in 2013 she launched a fleet of vans emblazoned with slogans saying “GO HOME OR FACE ARREST”. The campaign (called Operation Vaken) was also backed up with posters inside immigration centres encouraging illegal immigrants to return home with flights provided by the Home Office.

This plane can take you home. We can book the tickets.

Operation Vaken poster

Only 11 people left the country as a result of Operation Vaken (the Home Office alleged 45) and the scheme was unceremoniously dropped. The Guardian Newspaper reported in October 2013 that the campaign received 1,561 texts requesting information but 1,034 turned out to be hoaxes wasting hours of staff time to deal with.

Brexit means Brexit

Theresa May
From reluctant Remainer to Brexit Prime Minister

During the Referendum Campaign, Mrs May kept a very low profile but did appear at a limited number of events in favour of Remaining in the European Union. Following the hubris surrounding the resignation of David Cameron, May quickly became labelled as a “safe pair of hands” for the period of Brexit voted for by the British people. In the first round of voting, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb (former Secretary of State for Wales, who briefly replaced Iain Duncan Smith at the Department for Work & Pensions) were all eliminated, leaving only Theresa May & Angela Leadsom as candidates. After a few days and after a disastrous weekend in the media (see Andrea Leadsom above), Mrs Leadsom withdrew from the race and Mrs May got the job of Prime Minister.


Mrs May was appointed Prime Minister on 13th July 2016, Mrs May surprised the media (and many foreign governments) by appointing almost all the key players in Brexit into positions of relevance within her Government. Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary (yes, really), David Davis as Minister for Brexit and Liam Fox as Trade Minister were the three star signings.

At the time, this was seen as a shrewd “you broke it, you fix it” move from the new PM. A view that prevailed until the Conservative Party Conference.

Amber Rudd

Home Secretary, Conservative
Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd
© Twocoms /

I fear that the only number that Boris is interested in is the one that says No 10.

Amber Rudd
Amber Rudd played a very active role in the televised debates ahead of the Referendum Vote. Like Andrea Leadsom and Gisela Stuart (who she was often fielded against), this was due to her great TV performances.

She vehemently attacked Boris Johnson during these debates, saying about him on live TV :-

Boris, well, he’s the life and soul of the party but he’s not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening

Amber Rudd
Despite this, she then backed Boris’ campaign to become Tory Leader until Boris withdrew himself from the campaign (see Michael Gove above).

Controversy at the Home Office

Don’t call me racist for suggesting foreigners are taking British jobs

Amber Rudd
Despite a brief appointment as Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change under David Cameron in the 2015 General Election and a stint with George Osborne at the Treasury, she was made Home Secretary by Theresa May – apparently on the basis of her TV performances. At the 2016 Conservative Party Conference, she threatened to “name and shame” companies by forcing them to “be clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international”. Mrs May cancelled these plans after an outcry from the business community.

Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister, Scotland, SNP
Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon
©Twocoms /

Nicola Sturgeon
Little blame can be laid at her door in the debacle that has become post-brexit Britain. Her role in UK politics however, is pivotal. The SNP has 56 Members of Parliament in Westminster and a working majority in the Scottish Parliament (63 of 129 seats).

The SNP campaigned successfully for the UK to remain inside the European Union, with a 62%-38% win for Remain and Mrs Sturgeon has been formidable in her intention to keep Scotland as a member of the European Union ever since.

This visit to Scotland is my first as prime minister and I’m coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries

Theresa May

Mrs Sturgeon met with Theresa May in Edinburgh on the 15th July 2016, Mrs May’s first visit as the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The meeting was cordial enough, but what lays ahead for Scotland – which voted as a nation to remain in the EU – is very much up for grabs.
Nicola Sturgeon has already announced that she will call a second Scottish Independence Referendum rather than go quietly from Europe.

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George Osborne

Former Chancellor, Conservative
George Osborne

George Osborne
© Twocoms /

Did I want Britain to remain in the E.U.? Yes. Did I fear the consequences if we quit? Yes. Did I argue passionately for that during the referendum? Absolutely I did.

George Osborne
George Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer during David Cameron’s entire time as Prime Minister. Known for being an exceptional political operator, perhaps more so than his reputation as Chancellor, Mr Osborne comes from wealthy wallpaper & fabrics family, Osborne & Little.

George Osborne was a champion of the “Northern Powerhouse” initiative. He was heavily criticised during the Referendum debate for trying to manufacture economic data to support David Cameron. Some of it credible, some less so.

Mr Osborne is one of the very few former ministers NOT to be retained by Theresa May when she created her first cabinet. He has returned to the back benches, perhaps sensing an opportunity ahead once the the realities of Brexit begin to dog the Prime Minister.

Mark Carney

Governor, Bank of England
Mark Carney

Mark Carney
©Twocoms /

leaving [Europe] could possibly include a technical recession

Mark Carney
You have to feel it for the Guv’nr. Mr Carney was viciously criticised for being partisan when he warned in May 2016 that risks of leaving [the European Union] could “could possibly include a technical recession”.

The Brexiteers went bonkers, accusing Mr Carney of “talking down” the country.

What is a Central Banker supposed to do but point out the economic consequences? Mr Carney has since been very careful about his future statements. In July, he got support from an unlikely quarter in the Leave campaign though :

Most sensible people can see Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has done a superb job — and now that the referendum is over, he will be able to continue his work without being in the political firing-line – Boris Johnson

Canadian born with 13 years experience at Goldman Sachs and former Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr Carney is photogenic, calm and popular with financiers and journalists alike. He’s been the UK’s Governor since November 2012.


Jeremy Corbyn

Leader of the Opposition, Labour
Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn
©Twocoms /

Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit will define Labour’s future

John McTernan
Accused by many inside and outside of his Party for his lacklustre campaigning performance during the Brexit Referendum, Mr Corbyn was just being true to form.

He voted against membership of the EU in the 1975 Referendum to remain inside the Common Market. He also voted against the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and spoke out against it in parliament :

It takes away from national Parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community.

Jeremy Corbyn
His lack of evidently sincere support for the Remain Campaign, including his refusal to campaign alongside David Cameron meant that the most significant Labour voice in the campaign was that of Gisela Stuart, who campaigned to leave.

Main image : David Cameron
© /
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