Sunday 2 April
Now out of Ukip – the party he bankrolled – Arron Banks is creating a political movement of his own. We met the ‘bad boy of Brexit’ just before article 50 was triggered – and found his ambitions go far beyond leaving Europe
It is five days before article 50 is triggered, and I’m sitting in the sunshine outside a pub in Islington with the man who bankrolled Brexit. If victory lies with anyone this weekend, it maybe lies with Arron Banks.
Though Nigel Farage is the face of Brexit, Arron Banks is the man who made it possible. He bought Brexit. Or at least paid for it. Until 2014 he was an unknown Bristol businessman. Now he’s the biggest political donor in British political history. The most powerful. He put more money into funding the Leave campaign than anyone else – more than £7m. He donated his office space, his computer equipment, his senior staff. He’s the co-founder of Leave.EU, the so-called “provisional wing” of the Leave campaign, spearheaded by his close confidante Nigel Farage, and he’s now contemplating his next move: taking an axe to the rest of the parliamentary system.
He only began pouring his money into politics in earnest in 2014 with a splashy donation to Ukip but he’s now out of the party and in the throes of creating a new “movement”. In his sights: the seats of more than 100 Remain MPs. Although, he’s not partisan – he’s aiming to dislodge all “bad MPs”. (“Bad MPs” being, as far as I can make out, anyone from Oxford PPE-ists to people he’s had a spat with on Twitter.) He tells me he’s working with Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s former head of strategy, to come up with “a points system that grades them on their awfulness”, and from that he’ll formulate “a target list of the most hated people”.
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