A new cross party super-group of top businessmen and politicians has formed to spearhead the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union. With directors appointed from each of the political parties, the group is expected to put in a formal application to the Electoral Commission to become the designated lead campaign within weeks.
The campaigns to leave the EU have been in turmoil over the last week as a number of people have stepped forward to accuse Dominic Cummings and Matthew Elliott of Vote Leave of refusing to join forces and present a united front on the issue.
Both Vote Leave and rival group Leave.eu had been vying for official recognition from the Electoral Commission as the lead campaign, a designation which bestows guaranteed media airtime and a maximum spend of £7 million. But despite repeated overtures by Leave.eu to merge the campaigns and present a united front, Cummings and Elliott insisted on going it along.
Yet with Vote Leave campaign in tatters following two high profile resignations – Labour’s Kate Hoey and Green Party Peer Baroness Jones – the ground is now clear for the Brexiteers to join together in one united group.
The new group will see some 15 Eurosceptic groups including Leave.Eu, Better Off Out, the Campaign for an Independent Britain, the Freedom Association and the Bruges Group merge with Grassroots Out, the Express has reported.
The groups are understood to have reached an agreement on Friday night following a successful Grassroots Out rally in Manchester, which was addressed by former shadow home secretary David Davis. The event was livestreamed by Breitbart London and can be watched in full here.
Some 2,000 people attended the meeting, only the second to be organised by the group. The widespread appeal is testament to the broad appeal of the group’s founding members, which include Conservative MPs Peter Bone, Tom Pursglove and Philip Hollobone, Labour MP Kate Hoey, DUP MP Sammy Wilson and UKIP’s Nigel Farage.
Addressing the crowd, Ms Hoey urged the audience to “go home and think about what you can do individually, because everybody can make this happen.”
She added: “The best thing about this referendum is that members of Parliament have only one vote and the public has the real vote at the end of it. I trust the instinct and the common sense of the British people.”
Last night Arron Banks, the millionaire businessman who founded Leave.EU and funds Grassroots Out, said: “David Cameron is going around Europe with his begging bowl out and they’ve made it clear what they think of his demands. It’s pointless and insulting to the country.
“No one is convinced that he has got any kind of deal, let alone one that will change anyone’s mind or be what’s best for Britain. It’s time to stop pretending.
“The polls show there’s a huge number of people who want to leave the EU.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We can’t afford to let it slip through our fingers. Now is a time for unity, not for egos and infighting. We need to speak in one voice, the voice of the people and the voice that is best for Britain.”