Will Straw, the activist-in-chief behind the Britain Stronger In Europe (BSE) campaign to keep the UK in the European Union (EU) has told the Economist that unlike some of his naysayers, the idea that UKIP leader Nigel Farage is bad for the ‘Leave’ campaign is untrue.
Bagehot, which conducted a soft interview with Mr. Straw, posed the question: “The more Nigel Farage fronts the Leave campaign, the better for you, no?. You must cheer every time he pops up on TV” echoing the sentiment expressed by anti-Farage elements both in the establishment leave campaign (Vote Leave) and indeed amongst some inside UKIP.
But Mr. Straw disagrees, claiming that Mr. Farage is persuasive and charismatic. He said that the BSE campaign is wary of Mr. Farage and his influence, and that they would rather not be complacent about his impact on the British public.
Speaking to the Economist, Mr. Straw replied: “No, I don’t think we feel that way about Nigel Farage.
“He has shown in previous elections that he is a persuasive, charismatic figure and so we are very mindful of his role in this campaign.
“What we want to do is take him on, challenge him, have the debate, pin him down on precisely what he wants Britain’s future to be. To understand whether his priority is ending free movement and therefore if he is willing to sacrifice jobs and low prices, which would be the consequence; how he plans to combat cross-border crime and terrorism from outside the EU; how he thinks we can combat the aggression of Russia from outside; not to trivialise or be complacent but to take the debate to him.”
Mr. Straw used the interview to boast that his side of the debate had more, and younger activists making the arguments to stay in the European Union than the Leave side has.
Speaking about the “Project Fear” tactic being used to try and frighten the British public into staying in the EU, he said: ““Project Fear” is a smoke-screen used by Leave campaigners because they do not have an argument about what Britain’s future looks like. It is as simple as that.
“We have been making a positive and patriotic case from the start. I think that is pretty clear from the name—Britain Stronger in Europe—and from our key argument that “Britain is stronger, safer and better off” in Europe than we would be on our own.
“The literature that we have produced is overwhelmingly about making the positive case.”
His claim comes just days after the Express revealed that the BSE campaign had sent a “propaganda pamphlet… scrawled with doom-laden theories” to millions of British homes.