Here is the latest in our series reflecting on the Brexit process with regular BrexitCentral authors and others who have played an important role in our journey out of the European Union. Here are the answers to our questions from Richard Tice, the co-chairman of Leave Means Leave who went on to become a Brexit Party MEP and the party’s chairman.
BC: When did you first come to the view that the UK would be better off out of the EU? Did you ever think that the EU could be reformed from within to make membership tolerable for the UK? Tell us how your views developed over time on the issue.
I have been deeply eurosceptic for over 20 years and was involved in the Business for Sterling campaign not to join the euro. I knew it would prove to be deeply flawed, as it has turned out. I never thought the EU would reform and after Gordon Brown decided to keep us out of the euro, I watched with rising concern at how the EU was taking on ever more powers. I was shocked also at how the EU overrode democracy when it ignored the ‘No’ results in the referendums on the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands in 2005, then forced Ireland to vote again in 2008 on the Lisbon Treaty.
BC: What was your most memorable moment during the referendum campaign?
The Sunderland roar – the result on referendum night which effectively told me we had won. I said to the Telegraph’s Chris Hope, who was next to me, that we would be able to call a victory within the hour.
BC: Where were you on referendum night? How did it feel?
At the Leave.EU results party at the top of Millbank Tower. It was total mayhem after Nigel Farage had issued an immediate concession; I was quietly confident, however, and had placed a small bet that day at 10-1…
BC: Did you think then that it would take as long as it has for Brexit to actually happen?
No, it never occurred to me, I was naive.
BC: Were there any moments in these last few years since the referendum when you thought the prize could yet be snatched from us?
Yes, many in the last few months of Theresa May’s leadership, until we launched the Brexit Party.
BC: Do you think the British electoral landscape will return to type once Brexit has been delivered? Or will Brexit have caused a lasting change to the political map of Britain?
A bit of both, I think. The two main parties would like to return to business as normal, but the Tories have a weight of expectation that they have to deliver some change, given such a clear mandate. Our sole job at the Brexit Party is to hold them to account and act as a critical friend.
BC: What changes do you want/hope to see made now that the UK has taken back control? Can you summarise your vision for Brexit Britain?
My vision is for a confident people to proudly believe in ourselves as a great nation. My ambition is for a high-growth, low-tax, smartly-regulated economy that delivers a better quality of life for all.
BC: Do you have any special plans for 1st February, our first day outside the EU?
Sleep – I’m exhausted!
BC: Do you have a favourite photo of yourself from the Brexit process? If so, please share it and give us the context for it.
As above, at the Leave Means Leave rally on 29th March last year in Parliament Square, which I organised at the end of the 300-mile March to Leave from Sunderland – a big moment which led to launch of the Brexit Party just two weeks later.