The government is getting its revenge on the Vote Leave campaign. After a stunt at Monday’s CBI conference — where two protesters interrupted David Cameron’s speech — Sir Eric Pickles has written to the Electoral Commission to suggest that the Vote Leave campaign should not be designated as the official Out campaign. The Guardian reports the former Communities Secretary as saying:
‘I believe the actions of Vote Leave in disrupting the CBI conference and declaring a strategy of intimidation and protest disqualify Vote Leave from being a designated lead campaigner in the forthcoming EU referendum campaign.’
In response, the Vote Leave campaign say Pickles’ letter is a sign that the government is panicking about the referendum. Rob Oxley, head of media, says:
‘The Pickles letter shows No.10 is panicking. The BSE campaign isn’t doing very well and they need a relaunch. The Prime Minister’s letter to Tusk has bombed and by rolling out former ministers, they are attempting to deflect from their failures. They are trying to stop a campaign like ours because we’re gaining momentum.’
This gives the other campaign seeking the official Out campaign designation, Leave.EU, an opportunity to get back into the spotlight — particularly after it attempted to use Remembrance Sunday to promote Brexit. Arron Banks, founder of Leave.EU, says:
‘This goes against the grain totally and it pains me to say this but on this occasion Sir Eric Pickles is right. If we are to gain the trust of the British people in this campaign then provocative stunts and school boy politics is not the answer. This is a serious debate about a very serious matter and we now have to conduct ourselves accordingly stating that this is going to “get nasty” helps know one.’
The Vote Leave campaign clearly has no problem being seen as the insurgents — its founder Dominic Cummings has promised more stunts to take the fight into the heart of the establishment. No.10 and its opponents may not like it, but momentum is gaining for Vote Leave. Yet if the Electoral Commission happens to agree with Sir Eric and deems these stunts objectionable, there is a chance that Banks might have the last laugh.