BrexitCentral is a sleek website set up to push for a hard Brexit. It churns out a stream of articles, tweets, reports and interviews about why a hard Brexit must go ahead and what a roaring success it will be.
It also showcases the extent to which the small group of key players who led the Leave campaign – from individuals to organisations to politicians to thinktanks to political parties – are closely linked. Far from being a broad alliance that came together to make the case for leaving the EU, the core of the Brexit campaign revolved around a small number of people motivated principally by right-wing ideology and a desire to protect their own wealth.
BrexitCentral’s incredibly male-dominated team have all either worked (or still work) for the Conservative Party or are supporters. Its editor-at-large Matthew Elliott and its editor Jonathan Isaby are the founder and former political director respectively of the far-right neoliberal thinktank the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
Matthew Elliott’s CV neatly demonstrates the ideological nexus that underpins Brexit:
- Founder of the Tax Payers’ Alliance
- Former CEO of Vote Leave
- Former CEO of NotoAV (a successful campaign against the introduction of a fairer voting system)
One of the former Deputy Editors is none other than Darren Grimes. Grimes was the founder of the BeLeave campaign and after an Electoral Commission investigation has been fined £20,000 and referred to the police for breaking electoral law.
BrexitCentral’s material often has an inflammatory and divisive tone reminiscent of the Daily Mail. A July 2018 interview with Nigel Farage for instance, gives the former Ukip leader an uncontested platform on which to call for the removal of ‘a dishonest, deceitful Prime Minister’ and threatens that failure to do so will cause a ‘backlash’ that ‘may be unlike anything we’ve seen in this country for a very, very long time’.
BrexitCentral often claims to speak on behalf of ‘ordinary people’ oppressed by what it presents as an oppressive ‘EU superstate’. But the wealthy individuals and corporate interests bankrolling the site are highly unlikely to be ‘ordinary people’ by any description.
There is no information on BrexitCentral’s website about how it is funded. But both its editors work from 55 Tufton Street, which also houses Business for Britain, the Global Warming Policy Foundation – a climate change denial outfit founded by the former Conservative Chancellor Nigel Lawson – and the Taxpayers Alliance, as well as being the original home of law-breaking official Brexit campaign Vote Leave. The owner of 55 Tufton Street is Midlands-based businessman Richard Smith, who donated £150,000 to the Labour Leave campaign and is a trustee of the Politics and Economics Research Trust, the ‘charitable’ arm of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
All of this suggests that BrexitCentral is closely tied in with the small cabal of ultra-rich and far-right business people and politicians who have driven Brexit from the outset and that beneath its populist veneer it is pushing exactly the same extreme neoliberal agenda.
One explanation for the antipathy of such people to the EU is really very simple: the EU’s radical proposals to tighten controls against tax avoidance.