Oh dear. As Boris Johnson attempts to call a general election, this could be the week that supporters of a second referendum get together and push for a so-called people’s vote before any snap poll. One of the big Tory worries is that a majority of MPs could coalesce around such a position. However, that currently looks unlikely. Instead, the People’s Vote campaign is consumed with infighting.
On Sunday night, Roland Rudd – the outgoing chairman of Open Britain, one of the five groups that make up People’s Vote – emailed staff to announce that he had asked People’s Vote staff James McGrory, the director, and Tom Baldwin, the head of communications, to leave with immediate effect. In their place, he would bring in Patrick Heneghan, the former head of campaigns for the Labour party. The idea is that this restructuring will put the campaign in better shape moving forward.
Only not everyone agrees. Alastair Campbell took to social media to say that Rudd does not have the power to sack the pair:
He has tonight sent an email, without any consultation with the other groups, saying James McGrory and Tom Baldwin have been fired to be replaced immediately by Patrick Heneghan of @euromove (again without consulting EM) as interim CEO PV. He does not have the right to do so. 2/6
— Alastair PEOPLE’S VOTE Campbell (@campbellclaret) October 27, 2019
This morning, Tom Baldwin has told the Today programme that he plans to go to work regardless of being told he no longer has a job:
‘Roland Rudd has chosen this time to put a wrecking ball through the campaign. It’s not about me, it’s certainly not about him.’
While Mr S understands the friction descends from a disagreement over how the People’s Vote campaign ought to position itself, one insider says it’s as much to do with personal dislike these days. ‘They loathe each other,’ whispers Mr S’s mole.
But Roland Rudd has done his best to try and pour cold water on the row. ‘This is absurd. There is no problem,’ he told the Today programme. Mr S isn’t so sure.
“This is an absurd argument, everybody knows we’re made up of people who want to remain” in the EU.
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) October 28, 2019
Rudd also attempted to counter suggestions that he was a distant figure in the People’s Vote office and was a stranger to its staff, telling Today programme listeners that:‘I’m in and out [of the office] all the time’
But this was rather undermined shortly afterwards by People’s Vote staffer, Charlie Atkins, who said he was in the office every day but had never met Rudd before:
— Charlie Atkins (@kinsCharlie) October 28, 2019
It seems the Prime Minister finally has some good news to kickstart his week.