James Graham says people assume he is a ‘massively leftie, liberally, Remainy, 12-year-old-looking playwright’, but the man behind tomorrow night’s highly anticipated Brexit TV drama has delighted Leave supporters by criticising calls for a second referendum.
Channel 4’s Brexit: The Uncivil War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has surprised critics with its even-handed portrayal of the 2016 poll.
And speaking ahead of its screening, Mr Graham, 37, says he is not looking for a re-run, describing the last bout as ‘toxic’ and ‘traumatic’.
Benedict Cumberbatch (centre) as Dominic Cummings in a scene from the new TV movie: Brexit: The Uncivil War
James Graham (pictured above) said that Britain wouldn’t be able to take another referendum
‘I just don’t think we would survive going through that exercise again,’ he said.
‘We can’t do that again, no matter what we do.’
Mr Graham insists he is ‘not blaming one side or the other’, but believes ‘Leave, Remain, the public and politicians did not conduct themselves in quite the best way’.
And he called for massive reform of the electoral process if questions of that magnitude are ever to be put directly to the public in the future.
Tomorrow night’s 90-minute drama focuses on how Vote Leave’s eccentric but brilliant campaign guru Dominic Cummings, played by Cumberbatch, blew up the Downing Street-led Remain campaign, pioneered by David Cameron’s spin doctor Sir Craig Oliver. Sir Craig is played by Rory Kinnear.
But in a further blow to those who have declared the referendum was hijacked by Vote Leave’s use of sophisticated data to target adverts at certain groups of voters, Mr Graham scotched the conspiracy theories, saying: ‘Remain were doing it as well.’ He added: ‘The use of data is not an exclusively Right-wing thing, or conservative thing, or Leave thing. [Barack] Obama was the guy who nailed this first.
‘I don’t want the film to suggest – because I don’t believe this is true – that data used to target messages is manipulative. It’s what people have always done. It is not about changing people’s minds – it’s about finding people already sympathetic to that view and getting them to vote.
A scene from the film which shows the unveiling of the famous Brexit bus
‘I hope we don’t suggest it is anything close to manipulation.’
Mr Graham said he was not hopeful that his drama will unite the warring factions or please everyone, adding: ‘People will come to it with their own baggage.’