‘Final chance to have our say over Brexit’
Peter Wilding is responsible for naming Brexit – but now he is standing for the party that wants to stop it.
The Church Stretton-based solicitor, who was an adviser to David Cameron, has been selected as a candidate for the Change UK party in the forthcoming elections to the EU Parliament.
Mr Wilding, who is credited as the man who first coined the phrase Brexit, has been working for Shropshire solicitors FBC Manby Bowdler advising businesses on how to prepare for the UK leaving the EU.
But following a phone call from former Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who left the Tory party to form an independent group which has now become Change UK, the 54-year-old has agreed to put himself forward for the May 23 election on the West Midlands list.
The party is standing on a platform of a second referendum and campaigning to remain.
Mr Wilding, who is on record as a remain voter and who set up the pro-Europe think tank Influence Group, said that the European Election would present what is likely to be the final chance for the public express their feelings over Brexit.
He has also said that May could be a “tsunami” for the Conservative Party and that its current divisions over Brexit might lead to poor local election results – and, ultimately, a new leader of the party.
He said the situation could even open up for Boris Johnson to become the new leader, potentially shifting the party towards favouring no-deal.
He said: “Please vote. This is your one and only chance. In the scenario where we have a Conservative Party that is a no-deal party, a Labour Party that is all over the place on Europe it really is a choice between Change UK and The Brexit Party, so it is a huge choice for people.”
The announcement of the EU elections, which has followed Theresa May’s failure to secure parliamentary backing for her deal to leave Europe, has also seen the return of Nigel Farage, leading The Brexit Party.
Mr Wilding said that he believed British people would reject Mr Farage’s proposition at the ballot box.
He said: “Where I believe this election is good is it puts Nigel Farage and his party against those people who are against him. It is a binary divide. Nigel wants there to be a privatised NHS, Nigel wants there to be a no-deal, and The Brexit Party is effectively a Nigel Farage cult movement and I do not think the British people want that.”
Asked about how he had ended up in a position where he is standing for election Mr Wilding said: “Anna Soubry gave me a call. I knew her of old and she invited me to consider her approach. I thought about it long and hard and I said yes.”
Mr Wilding said that in his current role advising businesses, many across the West Midlands are concerned about the impact of Brexit – particularly those in farming or the hospitality industries.
He said that success for the Change UK party could provide the chance to address concerns raised by firms about the UK’s exit from the EU. He said: “West Midlands businesses have said to me they want no-deal like they want a hole in the head.
“I believe no-deal is a very much higher possibility today than it was in January and I want to give a voice to people who say no to no-deal. I want to give people a chance to vote against that.
“This election is incredibly important. What these elections are is a de-facto second referendum.”