On Thursday, 23 June the UK’s ‘In-Out’ referendum on its membership of the European Union will take place. In this Just the Facts, which is part of a series European Movement Ireland is producing on the forthcoming referendum, we look at the groups backed by politicians, businesses and the general public that have been advocating a position on remaining in or leaving the EU.
The United Kingdom’s Electoral Commission will select a ‘lead campaign’ for each side in the referendum. Campaign groupings on both sides have until 31 March to submit an application to the Commission. By 14 April, 10 weeks before the referendum, the lead campaign for each will be announced.
The benefits of being designated lead campaign are:
- A spending limit of £7,000,000
- One free distribution of literature to the electorate
- Referendum campaign broadcasts
- A grant of up to £600,000 to cover certain administration costs
A summary of the main groups which have formed at the time of publication, is listed in alphabetical order below.
The ‘Leave’ side
Better Off Out was founded in 2006 and is a cross party group advocating for Britain to leave the EU. Rory Broomfied is the director of Better Off Out. This grouping has publicly supported Grassroots Out.
Grassroots Out, also known as ‘GO’ is a cross-party group formed in January 2016 by Labour MP Kate Hoey and Conservative MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone. Leave.eu and UKIP have both publically backed GO.
Labour Leave was founded by businessman John Mills and supported by MPs Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer and Kelvin Hopkins and other Labour MPs. Labour Leave supports the Vote Leave campaign.
Leave.eu was formed by UKIP donor businessman Aaron Banks and is backed by Nigel Farage. Formerly called ‘The Know’, Leave.eu is one of the more prominent groups supporting a ‘Brexit’.
Vote Leave is a cross-party group and has strong affiliations with Business for Britain, Conservatives for Britain, Labour for Britain and Students for Britain. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has publicly backed Vote Leave. The group recently confirmed that Labour MP Gisela Stuart will be its chairperson, positioning it for a battle with Grassroots Out to be the designated lead group for the Leave side.
The ‘Remain’ Side
Chaired by businessman Stuart Rose, Britain Stronger in Europe includes prominent MPs and business people from around the UK. ‘Stronger in’, as it is known, is likely to receive the Electoral Commission’s backing as the lead campaign for the ‘remain’ side.
Conservatives in Europe for Britain is a grouping of MPs and people from the business world who want Britain to remain a part of the EU.
European Movement UK which is chaired by former Conservative MP Laura Sandys, is also working on the remain side and is supporting the work of Students For Europe and Environmentalists for Europe (E4E) among others.
IN together is the Liberal Democrats campaign advocating a vote to remain in the EU.
Launched on 10 March, the main target audience of Irish4Europe are the 400,000 Irish born people currently residing in Great Britain. Its steering committee is made up of representatives from European Movement UK, the Irish International Business Network, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and others.
Labour In for Britain is the Labour Party’s group supporting the ‘remain’ side. The group is led by Alan Johnson MP.
“Project Hope” is the mooted name for the group set up by members of the Labour party. Project Hope is separate to ‘Labour In for Britain’, and is not officially recognised by the party. It has been suggested that it will act as a more left-wing counterweight to Labour In for Britain.