Eurosceptic Tory MP Steve Baker Says Brexit Battles 'Cost Me My Mental Health'

The serial rebel revealed his struggles with depression in an emotional interview.
Steve Baker in Downing Street after backing Rishi Sunak's Brexit deal.
Steve Baker in Downing Street after backing Rishi Sunak's Brexit deal.
Gareth Fuller via PA Wire/PA Images

A Conservative MP and hardline eurosceptic has revealed that the political battles over Brexit “cost me my mental health”.

Steve Baker also said he regretted the “Brexit hardman” nickname he was given for his uncompromising approach to the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Baker, who is now a Northern Ireland minister, spoke of his personal struggles after backing Rishi Sunak’s groundbreaking deal with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, an emotional Baker said: “Seven years of this cost me my mental health.

″The beard, the jewellery, is about my recovery. In November ’21 I had a major mental health crisis. I had anxiety and depression - I couldn’t go on.

“People couldn’t tell. I made a big keynote speech in the afternoon. But make no mistake, holding these tigers by the tail - Brexit, Covid Recovery Group, Net Zero Scrutiny Group, the tax stuff we did with Conservative Way Forward - took its toll.

“We’re all only human and the way I’ve led rebellions, no one should have to do. And this is an important moment for me personally, because I can authentically say ‘he’s done it’.”

He added: “This bookends a seven-year chapter of my life that I’ll be glad to close.”

On his former nickname, Baker said: “That Brexit hardman thing is the stupidest, worst mistake I’ve ever made.

“End of a long day, I’d appeared on Laura Kuenssberg’s documentary with a tear in my eye because I am a passionate man. I had been trying to persuade somebody to vote in rebellion.

“And a journalist called me ’Brexit hardman Steve Baker and I stupidly invited the journalist to put it to me on air, thinking it was funny. But it was just a mistake at the end of a long, exhausting day and unfortunately it was catnip to the press, it got repeated and repeated and it cost me 2,000 votes in Wycombe and as you are showing now it’s still a stone in my shoe.

“But it was a simple mistake that hit me very hard.”


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