Opinion: 'Brexit: The Uncivil War' lies to viewers over Vote Leave's criminal activity

Opinion: 'Brexit: The Uncivil War' lies to viewers over Vote Leave's criminal activity

A scene from Brexit: The Uncivil War. Image: Channel 4

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

On January 7, Brexit: The Uncivil War aired on Channel 4. It was a dramatisation of the Leave campaign, and the role strategist and former adviser to Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, played in the Vote Leave's conception and execution. These are his views and not talkRADIO's.

Last year, Vote Leave volunteer Shahmir Sanni blew the whistle on overspending by the campaign, by unlawful donations to the linked youth movement group BeLeave.

Since then, Vote Leave has been fined and reported to the police, and Arron Banks, head of the Leave.EU campaign, is being investigated by the National Crime Agency for allegedly putting money from illegal sources into the campaign, and mishandling data.

In his own words, Sanni explains why he’s not satisfied with Brexit: The Uncivil War’s portrayal of the campaign.


'You can't balance criminality'

Actors Lee Boardman and Paul Ryan as Arron Banks and Nigel Farage in Brexit: The Uncivil War. Image: Channel 4

I’m not surprised that the criminal activity that happened behind closed doors in the Vote Leave headquarters doesn’t feature in Brexit: The Uncivil War, but I think it’s unfortunate.

I was invited to a screening two weeks ago, but now the rest of the nation has seen the film, it’s possible that someone unfamiliar with the crimes committed could walk away none the wiser that the law was broken.

This is a grave mistake that screenwriter James Graham made. He’s a fantastic writer, and the film is made well, but how you can put out a project and claim to have both sides of the story when one side has committed crimes?

You can’t balance criminality. You’re not going to ask for the opinion of the rapist as well as the victim if you have evidence that someone has been raped.

The public deserves to know that Brexit was won by illegal activity. Instead, people might watch this and think: ‘Dominic Cummings is so clever! That’s how they won, by using a clever data company, and his intelligence’. In effect, this film is an outright lie.

One of the main sources of information was political journalist Tim Shipman’s fantastic book, The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain's Political Class. But that book is out of date now. I wasn’t consulted during the making of the film, and I believe it was mostly senior Vote Leave officials who were - officials who oversaw the biggest electoral crime in history.

BeLeave, and its founder Darren Grimes, did not feature either - but he too, took part in this electoral scandal.

Even after all this, I’m still a Eurosceptic. My feelings aren’t based on any racist, xenophobic or hateful views. But I would not now, under this government, vote Leave. This government outed me to protect themselves, and I don’t want a Brexit that harms the country, that harms working-class people, or people of colour.

I’m not the only one. I have spoken to Leavers all over the country, and this Brexit is not one that any of them wanted.