As Britain gets ready to decide its future relationship with the European Union (EU), a major war has broken between two rival eurosceptic camps. Competing groups, led by Tory-confidant Matthew Elliott and UKIP donor Arron Banks respectively, have held unsuccessful secret talks about merging their two campaigns.
Negotiations have stalled because Mr Elliott – who founded the Tax Payers’ Alliance group – insists on being the campaign’s chief executive, a move the rival grass roots camp rejects, reports the Sunday Express,
Mr Banks, who is one of the leading businessmen behind The Know.eu campaign, told the newspaper yesterday: “We were approached by a Tory donor who suggested we join the two campaigns to create a vast, unstoppable, mega no campaign, which was not an idea that in principle we were against.
“After all we both have the same aims which is to convince the general public of the merits of leaving the European Union in the forthcoming referendum.
“Mr Elliott was adamant that he wanted to be the chief executive of the campaign and we were adamant that the job was too big for one person and that is where the talks broke down.”
He added: “My view is that the aim of the campaign should always come before personalities, which is why we always wanted our campaign to be a peoples’ campaign rather than one dominated by politicians.
“It is always a shame when egos get in the way but I am determined to make sure this doesn’t jeopardise the success of what I hope will be a very lively ‘no’ campaign when it fully kicks off next month.”
The Know campaign is clearly gaining traction and has already won the backing of more than 50,000 people despite the launch still being weeks away. Its Facebook site has attracted 46,000 supporters in a month, and it has already taken out advertising in major national newspapers.
It has also managed to rile the Conservative Party with its success. As Breitbart London reported, the non-partisan and independent campaign group, TheKnow, has been banned from the Conservative Party Conference this year for “political reasons”. This despite the fact that Elliott’s ‘For Britain’ group is clearly linked to the Labour Party, as well as the Conservatives.
Clearly TheKnow’s traction is causing upset amongst the establishment backers of David Cameron, who initially flocked to the ‘For Britain’ group. But sources tell Breitbart London that Elliott’s team is now struggling to fundraise, and previous backers are thinking of switching over to Mr Banks’s campaign.
Earlier this month Breitbart London covered Matthew Elliott’s staunch defence of Boris Johnson after we broke the story of Johnson’s interview with a German newspaper that did nothing to assuage suspicions that the Mayor of London at heart remains an ardent europhile – no matter what he says to British media to paint himself as anything but.
Now the need to have a clear, united voice leading the ‘No’ campaign is running into headwinds because the politicians and big business interests behind ‘For Britain’ – Matthew Elliott included – appear to feel threatened by a true, grassroots movement like TheKnow.