Isabel Hardman

Vote Leave changes board after infighting: will this calm the Out camp down?

Vote Leave changes board after infighting: will this calm the Out camp down?
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[audioplayer src="" title="James Forsyth and Vote Leave's Stephen Parkinson discuss Euroscepticsm"]

The Monty Python-esque scrapping in the ‘Leave’ camps may calm down a little after the Vote Leave campaign this evening announced a number of changes that will satisfy some of its rather agitated MP members.

As well as appointing Lord Lawson as the chairman of the board, Vote Leave is changing the members of that board, with Matthew Elliott, Dominic Cummings and Victoria Woodcock stepping down. They remain in their roles as the CEO, campaign director and company secretary respectively, and will continue to attend and contribute to board meetings, but their departures represent the ‘material changes’ that Conservatives for Britain chair Steve Baker called for at the weekend.

What this means now is that the campaign has a better chance of reaching out to other campaign groups, and other MPs who are not yet signed up. Lord Lawson, it is hoped, will act as a magnet for other parliamentarians to sign up. Speaking to Coffee House, Baker described Lawson as a ‘political colossus who will provide the political capacity necessary to ensure we are reaching out to the groups and parliamentarians’.

He also said in the official press release that ‘Vote Leave, the Vote Leave Board, Matthew Elliott, Dominic Cummings and the team have my thanks and whole-hearted support.’ These changes are an important part of the campaign’s push for designation as the official ‘Leave’ campaign from the Electoral Commission.

Of course, this won’t entirely stop the fighting in the ‘Leave’ camps because one important element of that fighting has been Leave.EU attacking Vote Leave while arguing that the two camps should merge. Arron Banks this evening said he had repeatedly offered a merger. He added that ‘we hope that the Vote Leave board is now open to what the majority of people want, a United Brexit campaign’. Later in the press release, he said:

‘Vote Leave is owned by Matthew Elliot and Dominic Cumming and by there [sic] actions they have shown they care more about the ownership of the campaign than coming together to win the referendum.’

Presumably any merger would have to involve Vote Leave continuing to take control of copy editing. The Vote Leave board is still clear that there will be no merger with Leave.EU. But it does sound from Baker’s language that there might now be some more outreach to other groups after these changes.

Written byIsabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is author of Why We Get The Wrong Politicians.

Topics in this articlePoliticsuk politics