wholly owned and run by Matthew Elliott and Dominic Cummings, there is enormous doubt about its suitability to be designated as the official leave campaign.
This stems from the fact that Elliott has expressed views and aims that are fundamentally contrary to those of someone who wishes Britain to leave the EU.
One of Elliott's contradictions concerns what he would do if David Cameron achieved some form of Associate Membership deal for Britain, which would leave this country in the EU. Elliott's view is shown below:
Blogger, White Wednesday, raised this again directly with Dominic Cummings on Twitter. Cummings declared that if Cameron came back from his renegotiation with a two-tier Europe deal, Vote Leave's position is that people should vote to leave, which directly contradicts what the 'formidable' Elliott said above. The Twitter exchange from yesterday (Sunday 11 Oct) is shown in full below:
As you can see, Cummings is claiming Elliott's position hasn't changed. This means either Cummings doesn't know what his own boss wants, or Cummings is misleading people about Elliott's views. But of an explanation there is no sign. Despite me asking three further times when Elliott's position had changed, Cummings has ignored the question. It's worth noting Cummings has been on Twitter and tweeted me since these questions were asked:
However, since 8.20am, in keeping with his selective vision and radio silence of yesterday, Cummings has still provided no answer. The hatch has been battened down and they are hoping it will all fade away. But it won't.
The public has a right to know what the media's favourite to lead the official Leave campaign really thinks and the reasons why he wants to lead the Leave campaign despite every public utterance being in favour of remaining in a reformed EU.
Some people will be frustrated by this piece. Many will argue that everyone on the Leave side should come together to work to the common goal of winning the referendum and leaving the EU. Some will describe this as sniping as harmful to the cause, while others will say this is a circular firing squad that will undermine efforts to achieve Brexit. But the fact is the rival campaigns have different agendas. This is not an effort to undermine a rival, but an effort to expose and defeat an opponent.
Regardless of the quality or inaccuracy of some of Leave.EU's campaign work so far, Arron Banks and his team genuinely believe that Britain should leave the EU no matter what, as a point of principle, and they are investing money, time and hard work to help enable it to happen. For them leaving the EU is a cause. That's how it should be. They are allies in this fight.
But when it comes to Matthew Elliott, it's impossible for any rational person to make a similar argument. He has spent years arguing, pressing and calling for Britain to remain in a reformed EU, opposing those of us who have been consistently made the case that Britain should leave. That isn't the behaviour or mindset of someone who believes in leaving the EU. Never has he said Britain should leave the EU on principle.
Yet as he has always planned and his media contacts have long trailed, he's position himself to lead the official Leave campaign. Like an agile chameleon, he has transformed himself in an attempt to seize control of something he has stood against having always pushed his line of staying in the EU with reforms. Take a moment to let the enormity of what has happened to sink in. A man who has been pushing for Britain to stay in a reformed EU always had the intention of controlling the campaign of people whose views he rejected. Why?
Elliott and his closest colleagues have conveniently set out the most likely reason themselves. They've formed companies between them, used Elliott's position in the No to AV campaign to get official positions which has then allowed them to award contracts to themselves (h/t Boiling Frog) which is a massive conflict of interest.
But they have gone further, with an objective of building a database containing voter preferences, key issues and intentions from around 500,000 data records into one containing over 10 million records, but with a target of 20 million voter records, unprecedented in UK politics. The value of this data to political parties and campaigns is huge and the proceeds from selling it would be lucrative. The nationwide campaign ahead of a referendum will not only result in jobs and contracts for Elliott's friends, but essentially it will also enable the harvesting that data.
For Elliott and his inner circle leaving the EU is a massive business opportunity. That's is not how it should be. They are not allies in this fight. And every time they are questioned or challenged about this as shown at the top of this post, they go silent, refuse to reply, and hide away hoping it will all quietly go away.
Taking all this into consideration, is Vote Leave an appropriate organisation to lead the official Leave campaign? People can draw their own conclusions.