An organisation working to thwart Brexit, set up by close allies of Tony Blair, has received tens of thousands of pounds from billionaire Richard Branson and the backing of singer Bob Geldof and senior Lib Dem and Labour MPs.
A leaked email revealed the plotters have been “beavering away over the last few months” and hope the economy will falter and public opinion shift, presenting them with an opportunity to reverse or re-run the referendum.
A million pound ($1.25 million) war chest has already been pledged to the campaign, which claims “substantial progress” has already been made, including the identification of “an excellent potential CEO”.
The leaked memo, seen by the Independent, was written by one of Tony Blair’s closest cabinet allies, Alan Milburn, and Douglas Alexander and Lord Hutton of Furness, two other key figures from the Blair and Brown eras, are involved.
Freuds, a public relations agency founded by Matthew Freud, a close friend of both Mr. Blair and Mr. David Cameron, is thought to have been commissioned to manage the campaign.
High-profile, sitting MPs including former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour MP Chuka Umunna are believed to have been in contact with the group, as have celebrities such as Bob Geldof.
The email says: “We have been beavering away over the last few months to get a Europe campaign up and running. I’m pleased to say that substantial progress has been made.”
“I have met the Freuds team several times and we are making good progress. I have been in discussions with an excellent potential CEO to lead the campaign.
“Virgin … are keen to help … Since we last spoke [they] have offered a further £25k, plus bigger office space, help with legal advice and a possible secondment.
“I have held discussions with Stronger In, Chuka Umunna, a new organisation called Common Ground, Bob Geldof and a number of senior politicians across the party spectrum.” Mr. Milburn declined to comment.
Virgin boss Richard Branson campaigned furiously against Brexit and has lobbied hard against the “nonbinding” result since the vote in June, even meeting secretly with Prime Minister Theresa May to raise his concerns.
However, a Virgin spokesman told The Times: “Since the EU referendum Virgin has not made any payments to any Brexit campaign or organisation.”