There seems to be a wee bit of interest – even Trump/Farage fan club president Piers Morgan is piling in – about a Buzzfeed story about alleged divisions at the heart of the anti-Brexit campaign. Hugely overblown, as stories about campaign strategies often are (it is certainly hardly Maggie Thatcher’s famous wobble in her third election campaign) but given I have not returned media calls
Anyway, Buzzfeed ran a part of my statement, and for the sake of completeness I thought I would post the full statement here. If you can be bothered to go and read the story, I am sure it easily found, but you probably have better things to do, as I am sure everyone at the campaign HQ does too. Hey ho and off we go.
I didn’t see Mrs May’s speech today, and it will be no surprise to you that I view the idea of a Johnson Premiership with a rather sickly feeling in my stomach, but I nonetheless think the chances of a Final Say referendum have risen substantially since she decided to step down and he became favourite to replace her. That theme is for another day. Here is my statement, and my point about someone playing silly games was quickly confirmed when WhatsApp group messages about the leak were immediately leaked to Buzzfeed. Someone has been let out of Kindergarten.
“There are obviously a lot of people involved in the campaign which is going from strength to strength and, as I said at a recent People’s Vote rally in Cheltenham, I think the chances of a Final Say referendum have grown. They will grow still further if Boris Johnson tries to impose a no deal Brexit for which he has no mandate and he will not get one from a majority of 0.25% of the country who have a say in his new job application.
“It’s a pity that, for whatever reason, someone who says they are committed to fighting Brexit has chosen to leak selectively some of our exchanges and give you a partial and inaccurate briefing about their significance. But, hey ho, I’ll leave it to them to tell you why they think playing these political games helps the cause.
“I would like to put on record that the emails did not come from me or any of the senior People’s Vote staff. I am not asking you to say anything by way of reply, but it is important that the team knows this is not how a well run, grown-up campaign conducts itself.
“I would normally not bother responding but given there are so many people, staff and grassroots, working flat out for a People’s Vote, I would like to say that there is no disagreement about the stated goal of the campaign – a final say referendum with the option to stay in the EU, and I don’t think there is any doubt what I would be fighting for.
“The emails leaked to you show there was some disagreement over the decision of a small group who decided, without consultation, to set up a new company designed to raise money and harvest data around what they promised would be the biggest anti-Brexit march ever. This was despite them being fully briefed on the dates of a People’s Vote summer of action culminating in a march in London in October. For reasons of timing, not least the school holidays, Parliamentary recess and the uncertainty about the Tory leadership, I and many others, staff and grassroots, felt this was not properly thought through, being done for the wrong reasons at the wrong time, and I made that clear in my usual polite and comradely way.
“While I welcome any effort to draw attention to the need for a referendum with the option to remain, I will not be able to attend their march or rally myself as I will be in Australia for a long-arranged mental health speaking tour. I will be back for more of the PV rallies later on and our big march in London on October 12. Those we have held so far have sold out rapidly not least because of the huge grassroots support for the PV campaign, and I know many of those grassroots supporters will be in Derby on Friday where Michael Heseltine and Margaret Beckett are among the speakers.”