People's Vote campaign splits as rival group launches Vote for Final Say

Ben GartsideReporter
Anti-brexit and pro-EU protesters shelter from the rain outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters
Anti-brexit and pro-EU protesters shelter from the rain outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

A new pro-EU campaign has split from the People’s Vote group and will launch a rival campaign in favour of a second referendum.

Vote for a Final Say, which has been backed by former People’s Vote affiliate For Our Future’s Sake, a pressure group supporting a referendum on the Brexit withdrawal agreement, has announced a target list of 25 seats where a potential majority for a Brexit deal could be blocked via tactical voting.

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Commenting on the launch, former senior adviser to the People’s Vote campaign James McGrory said: “Time is running out to stop Boris Johnson getting a landslide. There have been too many arguments about who has the best tactical voting website or polling data and not enough action. We can all agree that these 25 seats are critical if we’re to prevent ‘Brextremist’ Tories securing total power. Now is the time for everyone to roll their sleeves up and start fighting back.”

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McGrory and fellow former senior campaigner Tom Baldwin left the People’s Vote following a public spat with former director Roland Rudd, who mounted a “boardroom coup” against Baldwin and McGrory, which led to a staff revolt against Rudd.

A source involved in Vote for Final Say said its launch was down to a floundering People’s Vote campaign, and a potential fight for official designation if the new parliament returns a majority of MPs in favour of a new referendum on Brexit.

Becoming the “designated campaign” in a referendum leads to many benefits. In 2016, becoming a designated campaign meant the right to spend up to £7m, a free mailshot, TV broadcasts and £600,000 in public funds. The official campaigns are decided by the Electoral Commission, based on a pre-set criteria.

According to a source involved in new pro-EU campaign, three groups are likely to battle out for the official designation if a second referendum comes to pass. The existing People’s Vote campaign will likely contest for designation, as will the new ‘Vote for a Final Say’ launched by McGrory and Baldwin, as well as other pro-EU group Best for Britain.

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A source supportive of Vote for a Final Say was positive about a potential designation battle, saying the new campaign had peeled off the “best and brightest” from the People’s Vote campaign, and had cross-party support and was also supported by affiliated groups such as For our Future’s Sake.

The source reaffirmed the group’s commitment to first blocking a pro-Brexit majority in the election, but said it had a “compelling argument” if a designation battle were to occur.

A spokesperson for Vote for a Final Say denied that the campaign were seeking to supplant the People’s Vote, and spoke of the shared urgency of pro-EU campaigners to block a Boris Johnson majority in the 12 December general election.

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