I have become increasingly impressed with the efforts, energy and ability of Mr Arron Banks and Mr Richard Tice, the co-directors of The Know which this week is re-branded to Leave.EU.
They have beneath them experienced professionals and website designers, social media, polling and call centre operations.
They now have over fifty staff in two offices, one in London, one in Bristol and support for he organisation is growing by about 7,000 people per day.
In many ways they are doing the same thing that UKIP have been doing. We took the decision over the course of the summer to launch our “Say No to the EU tour”. 300 public meetings are planned and I’ve now spoken at 3 of them. All the rest of the venues I’m speaking between now and December are now full.
We took the view that it would be a grievous mistake to allow the remain side to run riot and to allow the Prime Minister to set the terms of the renegotiation whilst not allowing our clear arguments on why we should leave the EU to be made.
Had we trusted the established Westminster “eurosceptics” it is likely that a whole year will have passed since the election before activity of any kind had taken place. I’m further impressed that Leave.EU have achieved the impossible.
The eurosceptic family has always been full of big fish in small ponds. That’s a polite way of saying egos . The groups had a reputation of not wanting to speak to each other. The people’s front of Judean vs Judean people’s front indeed. Yet the Banks consortium have managed to get every group committed to Britain leaving the European Union to come together under their umbrella. It is a remarkable achievement.
Perhaps more impressive still is that having met all the individuals involved I am convinced that not one of them is doing this for a political career or personal self gain. In fact they are putting their own hands deep into their pockets.
The style of campaign is reaching out to ordinary voters, as demonstrated by the employment of a political guru Gerry Gunster who has ran 30 successful campaigns in the USA says to me that British politics has seen nothing like this since Jimmy Goldsmith.
That is why today I was proud that it was the forum of the UKIP conference at which I said we would now link hands with Leave.EU and work together as a team.
No doubt the media will focus on Mr Carswell and Mr Banks not getting on on a personal basis. But against the bigger picture of the unification of genuine eurosceptics this is an irrelevancy.
Country before party
The assembled Westminster commentariat were totally astonished by a comment I made on breakfast television which they assumed would lead to uproar amongst UKIP delegates.
I said that important though the elections in London, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland were, as though I was looking forward to contesting elections under proportional representation (yes I am a bit sore about 4 million votes and one seat) that there was something even more important to me than UKIP’s success as a party in 2016.
Winning the referendum on our membership of the European Union matters far more to me than any allegiance I have to my own party. I’m interested in country before party and I hope that genuine eurosceptics in the labour and conservative parties will take the view that the independence of this country matters more than criticism from colleagues who wear the same coloured rosettes.