The ‘Brexit’ campaign is about to get dirty. And not just between the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaigns either. The fight for the official Electoral Commission designation is set to intensify as both Vote Leave and Grassroots Out tussle for the £7 million spending allowance.
Breitbart London understands that Lord Lawson, the head of Vote Leave, is due to meet with a representative from the other side this week, but as the issue comes to a head, a former Electoral Commission source has told the Guardian that the Grassroots Out group currently stands a better chance of winning the official designation.
According to the Guardian, Boris Johnson declaring for ‘out‘ and joining the “Westminster-focused and Tory-dominated” Vote Leave campaign doesn’t help them.
The source said, backing up what I explained on Saturday morning:
The EC’s guidance on designation says that where there’s more than one campaign that “adequately” represents those campaigning for a referendum outcome, it has to designate the campaign that represents those campaigning for the outcome “to the greatest extent”. That test is in the legislation (Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000) so the EC doesn’t have any discretion to over-ride it – and if it tried, it would be judicially reviewed and lose.
(This in turn would probably lead to the referendum being postponed, because it would have to re-take the designation decision and there wouldn’t be time for the winner to use the free mailing etc before 23 June).
So the EC will have to look very carefully at what the campaigns can show about how broad a church they are.
The weekend means Vote Leave have some heavier hitters than before, but they’re all essentially from the same place – the relatively non-loony end of the Conservatives (plus the Ukip MP Douglas Carswell).
And although the GO rallylooked ludicrous, it underlined that they have a broader base of support from high-profile politicians at the moment (albeit all eccentrics). As well as Galloway and UKIP they have Kate Hoey and the old-style Tory Eurosceptics.
The thing that’s probably really worrying Vote Leave is that they’ve lost Hoey and co. At the moment their main “Labour” affiliate seems to be John Mills, who’s a donor not a politician. [Vote Leave chief executive] Matthew Elliott’s strategy for getting the designation would have relied heavily on having “Labour Leave” signed up to Vote Leave, but at the moment the Labour campaign it seems to be in limbo, which is a major problem for him. He’s also lost Jenny Jones from the Greens and Ruth Lea from the amusingly-named Economists for Britain, both more minor losses but still symptoms of things going wrong somewhere.
It is particularly noteworthy that the Electoral Commission could mis-designate based on its own preferences, but it would easily be overruled by a judicial review. This is something that Breitbart London understands the Grassroots Out campaign is readying itself for, as the establishment moves against them.