Nick Boles: Brexit has been the Conservatives' Spanish Civil War

Posted On: 
18th October 2016

Former minister Nick Boles has compared the rifts in the Conservative party caused by Brexit to the split allegiances during the Spanish Civil War. 

Nick Boles at the 2015 Conservative party conference
AP Photo/Jon Super

Mr Boles, a member of the so-called ‘Notting Hill set’ and Remain supporter, said the referendum had put “strain” on the relationships among top Tories.

The Conservative MP also threatened to walk off a BBC show this lunchtime after being quizzed about Michael Gove’s unsuccessful bid to become Prime Minister.

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He was asked about the divides between Mr Gove and other members of the friendship group like David Cameron and George Osborne.

While stressing that he retained “very good” relationships with the set, Mr Boles said: “Obviously it has caused strain on relationships –not just within that group but in families and in friendship groups.

“It’s been an extraordinary issue in our times. For the first time in my life, I understand what people say about the Spanish Civil War, the way it actually separated, divided whole communities and families and this has come close to that. But I hope that as we now move away from it people come back together.”

Mr Boles initially backed Boris Johnson’s run to replace Mr Cameron as Prime Minister – only to transfer his support to Mr Gove when his bid was announced.

He hit the headlines when a text message emerged urging supporters of Theresa May to lend their votes to the then-Justice Secretary in an attempt to block Andrea Leadsom reaching the run-off.

While stressing that the leadership contest was “water under the bridge”, Mr Boles was reluctant to discuss the events when he was asked about them on the Daily Politics, at one point saying: “If you want me to stay on the programme we’re going to have to move on.”

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