Cover 9781785908736

In the general election of 1997, the Conservative Party was heading for electoral oblivion, the Prime Minister was competent but unable to connect with voters, the Labour leader was dragging his party back to the centre ground and MPs on all sides were embroiled in scandal. Sound familiar?

One of the many Conservative MPs who at that time found themselves staring down the barrel of almost-certain defeat, Gyles Brandreth understands what it’s like to be part of a government in its death throes. His account of his time in Parliament from 1992 to 1997 also controversially revealed the secret world of the Whips’ Office and its struggles to control a party riven by infighting.

Now, as history looks set to repeat itself, comes the definitive edition of this widely acclaimed classic. With candid descriptions of the key figures of the era, from the leading players to the ministers who fell from grace – and a bright young hopeful by the name of David Cameron – Breaking the Code paints an extraordinary portrait of Whitehall and Westminster in our time – warts and all.


“A wonderful book. A serious contribution to history, as well as funny and touching, Breaking the Code is how politics genuinely is.”

Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

“One of the most attractive things about these diaries is that the diarist is (like Alan Clark) one of those who can admit, even to himself, to having human weaknesses … Extremely touching … Brandreth emerges as a decent, amusing, talented and charming man.”

Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

“The sheer madness of Westminster is perfectly reproduced.”

Ian Aitken, The Guardian

“Brandreth has produced something unexpected: a political book about the Major years which makes perfect holiday reading … His unpretentious book should stay in the repertoire for many years.”

Michael Harrington, Times Literary Supplement

“Lots of good raw material here for historians.”

Ian McIntyre, The Times

“This book is a joy. For anyone interested in politics – indeed, for anyone not particularly interested in politics, but still fascinated by people – it’s a complete delight. It is funny, informative and irreverent, and, more important still, it opens a window on the Westminster world which has been tightly shut since some time in the middle of the last century.”

Julia Langdon, Glasgow Herald

“Searingly honest, wildly indiscreet, and incredibly funny … Breaking the Code is the best book I’ve read this year.”

Lynda Lee-Potter, Daily Mail

“Brandreth proves to be an entertaining, indiscreet and fluent diarist.”

Alan Taylor, Scotland on Sunday

“Enormously entertaining.”

Simon Evans, Birmingham Post

“By far the best political diary of recent years; far more perceptive and revealing than Alan Clark’s.”

Peter Riddell, The Times

“Brandreth is the true Samuel Pepys of our day.”

Andrew Neil, BBC Radio Five Live

“Brandreth, for my money, offers about the most honest, and the most amusing, account of the demented, beery futility of the Tory-ruled Commons in the 1990s.”

Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

“Hilariously acute … Portraits withering in their accuracy … Irresistible.”

Matthew d'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

“As a witty and insightful chronicler Mr Brandreth is unsurpassed.”

Michael Simmonds, The Spectator
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  • Paperback, 560 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785908736
  • 16 May 2024
    Available to pre-order
  • £14.99

  • Paperback, 560 pages
  • ISBN: 9781849549158
  • 10 September 2015
  • £14.99

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  • ISBN: 9781849548182
  • 26 September 2014
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