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US News Senior figures sacked from People’s Vote campaign

09:35  28 october  2019
09:35  28 october  2019 Source:   ft.com

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Two of the most senior figures in the People ’ s Vote have been asked to leave with immediate effect amid a power struggle inside the campaign for a second referendum on leaving the EU. One ally of Mr McGrory and Mr Baldwin questioned whether Mr Rudd had the power to sack them, given his lack

The power struggle within the People ’ s Vote campaign for a second EU referendum has intensified with two of the group’s most senior figures forced out. Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spokesman and People ’ s Vote campaigner , tweeted: “Before people get too excited, a few facts …

Aerial view of the anti-Brexit protest in Parliament Square © Associated Press Aerial view of the anti-Brexit protest in Parliament Square

Two of the most senior figures in the People’s Vote have been asked to leave with immediate effect amid a power struggle inside the campaign for a second referendum on leaving the EU.

James McGrory, director of the campaign, and Tom Baldwin, head of communications, were ordered to quit their jobs on Sunday evening.

Patrick Heneghan, former head of campaigns for the Labour party, was meanwhile appointed as the new acting chief executive of the People’s Vote while its board sought a permanent successor.

The moves were revealed in an email seen by the Financial Times from public relations guru Roland Rudd, who as chair of Open Europe — one of five organisations inside the People’s Vote — wields huge power within the campaign.

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Demand a People ' s Vote on Brexit - join the fastest growing political movement in Britain for free now The People ’ s Vote Campaign is made up of over 100 grassroots groups from across the country who are actively campaigning in their area for a People ’ s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

Row over explicitly pro-Remain ‘splinter group’ lead some staff to demand formal split.

Anti-Brexit protest © Associated Press Anti-Brexit protest

Mr Rudd has been engaged in a long power struggle with Peter Mandelson, the former Labour deputy prime minister, over the direction of the campaign.

One ally of Mr McGrory and Mr Baldwin questioned whether Mr Rudd had the power to sack them, given his lack of a formal position within the PV campaign. “He is no more the chair of People’s Vote than Idi Amin was the Last King of Scotland,” he said.

“This is essentially a coup against the staff and the campaign by a multi-millionaire who has been to the offices only a handful of times.”

But an ally of Mr Rudd said that he called the shots in the organisation, and was de facto chair, because Open Britain owned the data and was by far the largest organisation in the campaign. He said it was a “complete lie” to suggest that the businessman had rarely visited the offices: “Roland has been there so many times, so many times.”

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Senior figures in the People ’ s Vote campaign include Alastair Campbell and Tom Baldwin, Ed Miliband’s former spokesman. The allegation has been fiercely disputed by the People ’ s Vote campaign , which said it had repeatedly criticised Labour’s position on Brexit for being too weak.

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the House of Commons © Reuters Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the House of Commons

Mr Rudd is set to address the group’s 60-odd staff inside the campaign at 9am on Monday at its headquarters in Millbank Tower to update them on the changes.

In the email to colleagues, Mr Rudd, the founder of public relations powerhouse Finsbury, said he wanted to thank both Mr McGrory and Mr Baldwin for their hard work in difficult circumstances. However, he also alluded to the battle for power within the People’s Vote campaign.

“But as you will all understand the ongoing internal issues in the campaign have been allowed to carry on for too long. We now need a much clearer structure as we move forward,” he wrote.

Anti-Brexit protest © Associated Press Anti-Brexit protest

Mr Rudd said the appointment of Mr Heneghan would “take the organisation to the next level”. He added that the group would also start electing members from its grassroots supporters directly to the board. “We are building a new campaign; more professional and more in touch.”

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“ Senior figures from both business and trade unions are beginning to speak out on the impact of a hard Tory Brexit. “Unite, as Britain’s biggest trade union, should stand up for its members on the biggest issue facing workers and Britain. “I hope Unite listens to its members who are calling for a People ’ s

People ' s Vote is a United Kingdom campaign group calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The group was launched in April 2018 at an event at which four Members of Parliament spoke

Mr Rudd’s move is the culmination of months of boardroom wrangling inside the People’s Vote campaign, which was set up a year ago to campaign for a second referendum.

Much of the dissent has been centred on concern that Mr Rudd appears to want to switch towards an openly pro-Remain position. When some staff backed March for Change, a pro-Remain rally in July, it prompted a letter from colleagues criticising the “splinter group” for damaging morale and confusing supporters. But one ally of Mr Rudd said it would be “absurd” to pretend that many of the PV backers wanted to “reverse this madness” and stop Brexit altogether.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen at the House of Commons © Reuters Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen at the House of Commons

The battle for control of the campaign comes amid signs that there are not sufficient supporters in the House of Commons to back a rerun of 2016. Although the Labour leadership is now backing a second referendum there are dozens of Labour MPs who would vote against any such plan.

One senior figure in the campaign admitted there were not enough MPs supporting it but said “we might be only 10 names away from sealing it” in the coming weeks.

Private emails leaked to the Mail on Sunday a week ago suggested that Lord Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin-doctor, had been plotting against Mr Rudd earlier this year.

In one email, Mr Campbell wrote: “I do not see how this gets done without a public battle and it should happen soon and be fast and brutal.”

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