Steve Baker

Steve Baker

Credentials

  • BEng, Aerospace Systems Engineering, Southampton University. [1]
  • MSc, Computer Science, Oxford University. [1]

Background

Steve Baker has been a Conservative MP for Wycombe since the 2010 General Election. Baker is a long-time Eurosceptic. In 2015 he co-founded Conservatives for Britain, a campaign organisation formed just after the General Election in June of that year to lobby for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. During the referendum campaign, Conservatives for Britain supported Vote Leave. [2], [3]

The president of Conservatives for Britain is Nigel Lawson, who has come under fire numerous times in the news for his vocal denial of climate science. Lawson is the founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) the UK’s premier climate science denial campaign group based at 55 Tufton Street, a central hub for pro-Brexit and climate science denial lobby groups. [4], [5]

Steve Baker became chairman of the European Research Group in 2016, a publicly-funded group of Conservatives in Parliament aiming to secure a “hard” Brexit. The group consists of as many as 80 pro-Brexit MPs and has been led since January 2018 by hard-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg. The group has always taken a Eurosceptic stance, having emerged in 1994 out of the opposition to the Maastricht Treaty within the Conservative Party. [3], [6]

In September 2017, the ERG was in the spotlight when OpenDemocracy revealed taxpayers’ money was being used to fund research for the group, despite expenses rules being against such funding. [7]

In the period leading up to the EU referendum in 2016, Baker was one of a number of ERG members who held positions in the official pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave. Baker took a donation in 2006 from the Constitutional Research Council (CRC) when he was chair of the ERG. The CRC was later revealed to be behind a £435,000 donation to the Democratic Unionist Party, which was spent on pro-Brexit advertising. [8], [9], [10]

Baker resigned as a minister in the Brexit department on 9 July 2018, following the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis. [11]

Baker and Davis’ resignations were part of the wider Brexiteer response to the Chequers Statement of the UK’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit. Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, Davis and Baker saw Theresa May’s Chequers plan as keeping the UK too closely connected to the EU and failing to deliver on the “take back control” mantra of the original Leave campaign. The Chequers plan presented a compromise that left neither the Remainers nor the hard Brexiteers satisfied, hence the resignations of key Brexit cheerleaders and subsequent re-grouping of the Tory Brexiteers on the backbenches. [12], [13], [14]

Baker co-founded a free-market thinktank called The Cobden Centre in 2010, inspired by the ideas of Austrian School economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. In 2018, he was criticised for failing to declare his involvement with the organisation in Parliament' register of interests. [23]

Stance on Climate Change

Baker has argued that although he accepts that the climate is changing, resource depletion and population growth are more of a concern, claiming that climate change is a “medium to long term” problem. [15]

Key Quotes

December 19, 2010

In a post for the Conservative Home website in 2010, he wrote: [15]

[B]ad economic science is a greater threat to civilisation than climate change.”

“Climate science does appear to be subject to uncertainties and climate change appears to be a problem we face in the medium to long term. But I remember the fuel protests. I lived in a remote Cotswold hamlet and I came close to running out of food as well as fuel. I remember the queues and the anxiety and how quickly the situation developed. I remember thinking that we were only ever a couple of meals from barbarism. Perhaps resource depletion is a greater threat than climate change.” [15]

Key Deeds

August 2018 

Emails obtained by OpenDemocracy show Baker continued to have meetings with the hard Brexit European Research Group while a Minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union. The ministerial code says MPs must cut ties with the group when they are promoted into government positions. The meetings were not recorded in the department's transparency log, OpenDemocracy reported. [16]

July, 2018

Baker was implicated in an undercover investigation by Unearthed that suggests the Institute of Economic Affairs was receiving cash to get funders access to ministers, including Baker. IEA chief executive Mark Littlewood told the reporters he had been used as a “slight shill” to hide some of Baker's meetings with IEA analyst Shanker Singham. [17]

Baker is also revealed to have co-ordinated the creation and running of a WhatsApp group for backbench MPs who are given voting instructions through it by Baker. This “party within a party” is highly Eurosceptic, containing mostly members of the ERG, and leaked messages from the group show Baker asking MPs to vote for ERG Amendments to the Taxation (Cross Border) Trade Bill. [18]

January 17, 2018

The Ferret revealed that Baker had failed to declare in Parliament's register of interests his links to the pro-Brexit Cobden Centre thinktank he co-founded in 2010. [23]

July, 2017

Baker accepted a donation of as much as £6,500 from the Constitutional Research Council, a group that channelled £435,000 to the Democratic Union Party, OpenDemocracy revealed. The money was used for pro-Leave advertising and across the UK. [7]

OpenDemocracy also revealed that during 2013, Baker was a director of the company Thermal Engineering Ltd., which is involved in arms dealing in Saudi Arabia. [9]

May, 2017

Baker was one of 70 signatories on a letter to the BBC claiming their coverage of Brexit was biased. Of these 70, 12 are connected to the 55 Tufton Street climate science denier network, including Baker. [19]

December, 2013

Baker voted against allowing carbon dioxide emissions limits to be set at power stations with pollution abatement equipment fitted. Baker has generally voted against climate change measures previously. [20], [21]

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

Resources

  1. Steve Baker; Biography,” Politics.co.uk. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Gi1ur

  2. Steve Baker MP,” UK Government. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/fXwBQ

  3. David Pegg, Felicity Lawrence, Rob Evans. “Steve Baker, the ex-Brexit minister hell-bent on torpedoing May's Chequers plan,” The Guardian, September 30, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/okeCD

  4. Catherine Neilan. “EU referendum: Lord Lawson to head up Brexit group Conservatives for Britain, warning negotiations will yield “wafer thin” reforms,” CityAM, October 1, 2015. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  5. Tom Bawden. “The address where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders,” The Independent, February 10, 2016. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/PSL5U

  6. Sebastian Whale. “The ERG: a party within a party?,” PoliticsHome, September 27, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  7. Crina Boros, Adam Ramsay, James Cusick. “Revealed: The Tory MPs using taxpayers’ cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit group,” OpenDemocracy, September 7, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/d1KLt

  8. About the campaign,” Vote leave, take control. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/PMq23

  9. Adam Ramsay, Peter Geoghegan. “The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea,” OpenDemocracy, July 1, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/d1KLt

  10. Jessica Elgot. “Tories seek to block move to reveal donations to DUP in EU referendum,” The Guardian, March 7, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  11. UK Brexit department minister Steve Baker resigns - government source,” Reuters, July 9, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/16Vd0

  12. At-a-glance: The new UK Brexit plan agreed at Chequers,” BBC News, July 7, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ZIR8g

  13. Theresa May faces Brexiteer pressure to change Chequers plan,” Herald Scotland Online, July 16, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/or1ky

  14. Theresa May accepts Brexiter amendments to Government’s customs plan,” ITV News, July 16, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/s3Sfj

  15. Steve Baker. “The greatest threat to civilisation is not climate change but bad economics,” ConservativeHome, December 19, 2010. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  16. James Cusick, Jenna Corderoy, Peter Geoghegan. “Ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker remained in charge of secretive Tory ultra faction,” OpenDemocracy, August 29, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/V59h0

  17. Lawrence Carter, Alice Ross. “A leading think tank brokered access to ministers for US donors looking to influence Brexit,” Unearthed, July 29, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/6Ffcz

  18. Christopher Hope. “Tory rebels set up WhatsApp plot to thwart Theresa May's Brexit plan,” The Telegraph, July 15, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/jbbkT

  19. Kyla Mandel. “MPs Who Complained About BBC's Brexit Coverage Linked to Network of Hardline Euro-Climate Sceptics,” DeSmog UK, March 23, 2017.

  20. Energy Bill — Enabling Carbon Dioxide Emissions Limits to be Applied to Stations Which Fit Pollution Abatement Equipment,” TheyWorkForYou, December 4, 2013. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/rNq1H

  21. Steve Baker voting record on climate change,” TheyWorkForYou. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/m1kQd

  22. The Legatum Institute,” Steve Baker website, November 7, 2010. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ITsBG

  23. Peter Geoghegan. “UK minister under fire for failure to declare links to pro-Brexit think tank,” The Ferret, January 17, 2018. Archived April 3, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/qjzFt

Photo: Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0]