Book review: The Bad Boys of Brexit & The Brexit Club

Written by Keith Simpson MP on 24 November 2016 in Culture

Arron Banks and Owen Bennett both looked how Brexiteers conducted themselves in the EU referendum campaign.

The EU referendum seen from the Brexit campaign is documented in these two books. Owen Bennett is a reporter on the Huffington Post and has the advantage of close long term contacts with UKIP and between the two wings of the Leave movement who fought over which was to be the official campaign and the rows over strategy and personalities.

In The Brexit Club, Bennett documents in great detail virtually every significant and insignificant meeting that took place. Despite all the rivalries and mistakes the leavers recognised this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and on the whole had conviction and passion and were able to mobilise both their traditional supporters and crucially those who were later designated “the left behinders”.

But their victory was as much a surprise to many of them as to the Remainers and the media. And as the political establishment and the public are slowly realising, the Brexiteers had no detailed plan for implementing the result of the referendum.

The Bad Boys of Brexit is based upon thousands of emails, notes and recollections of conversations by the flamboyant businessman Arron Banks who funded UKIP and fought for Nigel Farage to be given his rightful place in the leadership of the campaign. Effectively this account has been ghost written by Isobel Oakshott, a jobbing journalist who helped Michael Ashcroft to write Call Me Dave. published after the 2015 election. She is now “editor-at-large” for the Daily Mail.

Banks regards Farage as a political genius. With that in mind, he happily bankrolled the Leave EU campaign and waged a violent and unconventional political campaign against both the remain political establishment and the so-called posh boys of Brexit including Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell.

If you want to read about populist nationalism and how it aroused the white working class voters then The Bad Boys of Brexit explains a lot. It also helps to explain why Banks and Farage endorsed Trump and were happy to be told they had been an inspiration to his campaign.


Now read Keith Simpson's review of All Out War by Tim Shipman and Unleashing Demons by Craig Oliver.


Keith Simpson is Conservative MP for Broadland.

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