By Paul Thomas, Consultant, MRM
Who was the true architect of Brexit? Nigel Farage? Boris Johnson? Paul Dacre, the controversial former editor of the Daily Mail? Or perhaps even David Cameron, who called the EU referendum in the first place?
Until a few days ago, these would have been the names on most people’s lips if you had asked that question.
But Channel 4’s new television drama Brexit: The Uncivil War revealed the true mastermind behind the UK’s decision to leave the EU: Dominic Cummings, a name until yesterday that would have been unfamiliar outside Westminster circles.
As campaign director for Vote Leave, former political aide Cummings, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, was the brainchild of the now infamous “Take Back Control” slogan and was behind the decision to slap “Let’s fund our NHS instead” on the side of the Brexit campaign bus.
Seen as a genius by some and evil puppet master by others, Cummings skilfully played on the fears and hopes of the British electorate to pull off what was thought of at the time as a near-impossible victory.
So great was Cummings influence on Brexit that James Graham, the playwright behind Ink, the enthralling account of Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper, decided to make him the central character in his two-hour long movie.
The film, which premiered on Channel 4 last night, highlights the often-dubious tactics employed by both Leave and Remain during the referendum campaign.
Cummings is depicted as a slightly awkward anti-hero with a strong disregard for the establishment, but also as someone with a near super-human ability to tap into the national mood and sentiment.
While many parts of the film are clearly dramatized for the benefit of the audience, Graham offers a fascinating glimpse behind-the-scenes of what is undoubtedly the most seismic event in recent British political history.
With Brexit far from over, it sometimes feels as though you are watching the highlights of a football match before the final whistle has been blown.
But regardless, it is a highly-entertaining and worthwhile watch for anyone with even the faintest interest in UK politics and public life.
To watch Brexit: The Uncivil War, click here.