Craig Oliver, “Unleashing Demons, The Inside Story of Brexit,” ( Hodder and Stoughton, London 2016) £20.
The cliche that it is the winners who write the history is proving to be true in the new field of Brexit studies. So this book by Craig Oliver who was David Cameron’s “Director of Politics and Communications” at Downing Street throughout the referendum campaign, is all the more welcome. It is useful for what it says, and also for what it reveals. From a purely factual point of view Oliver tells us a lot about what actually happened which is intriguing. For example he seems in one place to let slip the point that Mrs Merkel was in fact prepared to breach her core principle of freedom of movement- something that Mrs. May”s diplomats may well make use of. More generally though Mr. Oliver’s book is interesting for what it tells us about the world view of the elite that surrounded Dave. Until the very end of the campaign they retained the faith in the testimony of their experts which they BELIEVED- and believed is the right word here, would save their political bacon. It was this belief combined with their industrial quantities of hubris which explains their humiliation. They convinced themselves that fear would trump identity. It didn’t, they lost, and as a reward for getting it wrong Mr. Oliver got a knighthood. So no tears here for him I am afraid. But his book does deserve to be widely read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.