MPs and donors are abandoning the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign with just months to go before the EU referendum.
The Times says that up to 30 MPs, including former Conservative Party leadership candidate David Davis, are throwing their weight behind a new grassroots anti-EU organisation called Go, founded last week by Conservatives Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone and Labour MP Kate Hoey.
‘Vote Leave’, which has strong links with Britain’s political Establishment, is continuing to resist calls for it to merge with Leave.EU, the campaign set up by millionaire UKIP donor Arron Banks. Both organisations are vying to become the official designated ‘leave’ campaign once the referendum is called.
Mr Banks is also funding the ‘Go’ campaign, but only in a personal capacity and it remains separate from Leave.EU.
Mr Pursglove said: “The three of us set up Go because we were frustrated that so little co-ordinated activity seemed to be happening on the ground and there could be as little as 20 weeks to go until polling day.”
Mr Davis added: “I’m happy to help Go . . . Thankfully they are not involved in the fight for designation.”
Labour Party donor John Mills is stepping up pressure on ‘Vote Leave’ to join with Leave.EU, but it may be a while before any formal agreement or merger comes to fruition.
In October, over 1,000 local councillors from across the political spectrum signed up to the Leave.EU campaign, including 531 Conservatives, 194 UKIP councillors and 134 Labour councillors. The Scottish National Party and even the pro-EU Liberal Democrats were also represented, boosting the chances of the group being designated as the official campaign.
The following month, Arron Banks offered a truce to Vote Leave’s boss Matthew Elliott after months of infighting between the Eurosceptics, although both sides have yet to agree a formal merger.
The Times says the personality of Vote Leave founder Dominic Cummings is of particular concern to Mr Banks, who said: “I made it clear at a meeting with John Mills that Dominic Cummings is a problem . . . Were that to change, the two organisations can come together in the wider interest of all of us.”