There was a story in the Times this morning regarding Bernard Jenkins, a board member of Vote Leave, trying to oust its two main employees, Matthew Elliot and Dominic Cummings. This is pretty nuclear stuff given these are the two guys who have essentially run the campaign since its inception, and the man trying to do the ousting is a well known Eurosceptic Tory MP. What Jenkins was basically trying to do, if the Times story (The Telegraph have covered it as well) can be taken at face value, was to rewind the clock to zero and start the campaign all over again. This seems harsh in most respects – they have run a reasonably decent campaign thus far. Matthew’s moves have certainly frightened business into shutting up and/or running a mile from the issue for the last few months. That may be about to come to an end now that the prime minister has stepped in to defrost relations with the business community ahead of his renegotiation announcement, but Matthew had that covered as much as possible for a while. And Bernard Jenkins or any other board member of Vote Leave can’t expect Matthew and Dominic to overcome the might of Number 10 (even though at some stage, that may be what that campaign has to do).
Then there is the Vote Leave/Leave.EU conundrum to consider. Both want official designation – neither seem able to work with the other. Only one of them can get the official designation. Unless, the whole thing is such a fiasco, the Electoral Commission decides not to designate. That would mean there was no “official” Remain side either, but that plays to Remain’s advantage: they’ll have the prime minister and the chancellor of the exchequer talking about why staying in is the only option, while Leave gets a paltry £500k limit, no free post, no referendum broadcasts to match that.
How much all of this comes down to the Nigel problem, I don’t know. But Farage hasn’t been a positive influence on the Brexit campaign and it doesn’t look like that’s going to improve as we move into the campaign proper. Vote Leave clearly see him as a liability – on this they are absolutely correct. As a pro-European, I want nothing more than for Chris Grayling and Nigel Farage to be the faces of Brexit.
Compared to all of this, Stuart Rose forgetting what organisation he leads on Sky TV is a minor embarrassment. Again, pro-Europeans cannot get complacent but at present, contrary to what you read a lot of in the press about our inevitable march towards Brexit, the stars do seem to be aligning in our favour.