Steve Baker is a Conservative MP for Wycombe since the 2010 General Election. Baker is a long-time Eurosceptic. In 2015 he became co-chairman of Conservatives for Britain, a campaign organisation formed just after the General Election in June 2015 to lobby for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. During the referendum campaign, Conservatives for Britain supported Vote Leave.
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.
Baker was previously chair of the European Research Group, a publicly-funded Tory research group aiming to ensure a hard Brexit is not compromised. The group consists of around 80 pro-Brexit MPs and has been led since January 2018 by hard-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg. Historically, the group has always been Eurosceptic, with support from then-PM John Major in its attempt to coordinate right-wing opposition across Europe.
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.
In the period leading up to the EU referendum in 2016, Baker was one of 10 members of the ERG which acted in an official capacity for 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.
Baker resigned as a minister in the Brexit department on 9 July 2018, following the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis.
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 see Theresa May’s Chequers plan as keeping the UK too closely shackled to the EU, a far cry from 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.
Stance on Climate Change
Baker has described his personal opinion as the stance that the climate is changing, but that it is the resource depletion and the necessary economics that needs to deal with that which is more of a worry than the climate change itself.
“bad economic science is a greater threat to civilisation than climate change.”
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.
Baker is 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.
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.
Baker accepted a donation of as much as £6,500 from the Constitutional Research Council, a group that channeled £435,000 to the Democratic Union Party, OpenDemocracy revealed. The money was used for pro-Leave advertising and across the UK.
OpenDemocracy also revealed that during 2013, Baker was a director of the company Thermal Engineering Ltd., which is involved with arms dealing in Saudi Arabia.
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, of which Baker is one.