Leave.EU, the original campaign group for Brexit has hit back at the officially designated campaign, Vote Leave, accusing it of being nothing more than a “Tory plaything” and a front for Conservative power games.
Arron Banks, founder of Leave.eu has calling on the organisation to ditch its toxic leaders Matthew Elliott and Dominic Cummings and instead focus anew on leading Britain out of the European Union.
“Leave.EU … suggests that the Tories in charge of Vote Leave, Boris (we love you by the way!) and Michael Gove, get rid of Matthew Elliot and Dominic Cummings, who are delivering a passive and partial campaign,” Mr Banks said.
“The Leave campaign is doing well despite the efforts of Vote Leave, not because of them. Elliot and Cummings have done more to damage the Brexit cause than all the efforts of the IN campaign put together.
“Were it not for the issues of Leave.EU and UKIP ensuring that issues like immigration and TTIP have a hearing in the media, we would have nothing other than a flaccid Tory versus Tory campaign.
“It would be great for everyone to work together, but we have Vote leave constantly behaving like an arrogant bunch of Tories who feel the referendum belongs to them.”
Advising people to “Expect the unexpected!” he appealed to former Mayor of London Boris Johnson to “get rid of these poisonous, low-level individuals and let’s go for victory together.”
Mr Banks’ comments follow an extraordinary intervention by Vote Leave this morning, in which they publicly warned both ITV and Downing Street to “expect consequences” for daring to stage an event which will pit UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage against the Prime Minister David Cameron in a bid to persuade the British people on the EU referendum question.
Vote Leave had wanted either Michael Gove or Boris Johnson to make the Brexit case, but their ire following the announcement has led to speculation that they wanted to use the debate to position either of those two Conservative MPs to be the next Conservative Party leader.
“The recent outburst against ITV and threats against Number 10 staff over allowing Nigel Farage to take part in televised debates shows just how deluded they have become,” Mr Banks said.
“We assume Vote Leave bullied the BBC into excluding the UKIP leader, too.
“The referendum is not a Tory plaything and we need to hear voices from other parties and ordinary members of the public. A bigger role needs to be given to the Left, where we need four million votes to win.”
“UKIP won the 2014 European election, has more MEPs than the Tories and won 4 million votes in the last general election – the same number as the SNP and Lib Dems put together.
“For the BBC to exclude UKIP shows the pressure they were put under by Vote Leave. The BBC should be ashamed and should review this decision.
“Nigel has spent 20 years fighting for this referendum and deserves more respect!”
Last month Mr Banks told the UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee that Vote Leave had conspired to keep Mr Farage out of a major movie about the European Union referendum, titled ‘Brexit, the Movie,’ which was partially funded by Leave.EU.
The organisation has been losing support hand over fist for its bullying behaviour; in February Labour MP Kate Hoey quit the organisation, telling media that she could not work with Elliott and Cummings as they “spread lies” and “are always trying to do down Leave.EU”.
More recently another Labour figure, businessman John Mills left, saying that the organisation had no interest in reaching out to Labour voters, making it less likely that the referendum would be won.
And its members have been caught doing down UKIP members, calling them “fanatics” and “oddballs.”
Yet despite this obvious opprobrium for anyone other than establishment Conservative figures, Vote Leave was handed the official designation as the lead Leave group, a decision which Mr Banks maintains was a mistake:
“Leave.EU has cross-party support and it’s a fact that Boris and Gove don’t go down very well north of Potters Bar.
“We collectively raised and spent £9 million against Vote Leave’s woeful effort of £2.8 million, despite all their big talk. In fact, we matched the Government’s money on its infamous leaflet and enabled Leave family to outspend the IN campaign.
“Our social media effort dwarfs both official IN and Out campaigns and we now intend to use this vehicle to get the message out to the public. In the final month of the campaign we will set the referendum alight.”