Britain'south 'out' campaigners mistrust the EU, and each other

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 4:03 PM

Leading campaigners have branded one another elitist, irrelevant and unfit to running a sweet shop — and they're all on the same side. With less than three months to go until a June twenty-three referendum, Britain'south anti-EU campaigners are bitterly divided, with two rival camps battling over which will be the standard-bearer in the campaign — and over how to win the historic vote.

Britain'south 'out' campaigners mistrust the EU, and each other

Tempers are flaring and insults are flying in Britain'south battle over the European Union. Leading campaigners have branded one another elitist, irrelevant and unfit to running a sweet shop — and they're all on the same side.

With less than three months to go until a June twenty-three referendum, Britain'south anti-EU campaigners are bitterly divided, with two rival camps battling over which will be the standard-bearer in the campaign — and over how to win the historic vote.

Will voters create up their minds based on concerns about immigration and national sovereignty, or on worries about the cost of the pound in their pocket? How to reply that question divides the two rival anti-EU groups, Grassroots Out and Vote Leave.

"The other campaign is much more 'Immigration, immigration, immigration,'" said Vote Leave spokesman Robert Oxley. "They think they can win on immigration alone."

Oxley said Vote Leave recognizes that the campaign also needs to win an economic argument. "People necessity to be reassured that by voting to leave, their job isn't being keep at risk."

Grassroots Out and Vote Leave are vying to become the official "leave" side in the referendum campaign, a designation that'll be made by the Electoral Commission before April 15.

The chosen grouping will be able to spend up to seven million pounds ($10 million) and will obtain free television broadcasts and a mail-out to households across the country.

On the pro-EU side, only one grouping is seeking the mantle: Britain Stronger in Europe. On the side arguing for a British exit — or Brexit — the two rival groups have been jostling and criticizing one another for months.

The more polished is Vote Leave, which has the support of many prominent Conservative Euroskeptics, including Cabinet minister Michael Gove and London Mayor Boris Johnson, as well as figures from other parties. It's slick branding and a professional media campaign that aims to persuade wavering moderates and young voters.

Its rival, Grassroots Out, paints itself as the down-to-earth alternative. It'south an umbrella grouping whose main component is Leave. EU, a well-funded grouping founded by Arron Banks, a brash multimillionaire backer of the anti-immigrant U. K. Independence Party.

Grassroots Out has focused on holding Str stalls and local events up and down the country. Its highest-profile figure is UKIP boss Nigel Farage, a divisive politician who's loved by some and loathed by others for his blunt-spoken, British-as-a-bulldog image.

Farage built UKIP from fringe party into political force by stressing its anti-establishment credentials. He's taking the same approach to the referendum, painting Vote Leave as a bunch of out-of-touch political insiders.

"They are so much seen as the center-right and so much seen as SW1 (the postal code for Parliament), and not actually out circular the country doing the stuff we're doing," he said recently.

Farage accused Vote Leave of seeing their rivals as "members of the lower orders and not really fit to sit circular the same table as them."

Banks has been even less complimentary, saying of Vote Leave'south organizers: "I wouldn't keep them in charge of the local sweet shop."

The divisions have become acutely personal. UKIP'south sole lawmaker in the House of Commons, Douglas Carswell, defied party boss Farage maintain Vote Leave. "I don't care," Farage said. "He is irrelevant."

The infighting has left the "leave" camp without a powerful single figurehead to go up against Prime Minister David Cameron, the face of the "remain" campaign.

The best-known pro-Brexit figures are an nearly comically diverse bunch, ranging from Farage on the tough right to wonkish Conservative politicians love Gove and House of Commons boss Chris Grayling to the bombastic left-wing former lawmaker George Galloway.

Steven Fielding, Prof of political history at the Univ of Nottingham, said there was a perception that the anti-EU campaign is running by "oddballs."

"These aren't people who see as though they ought to be on 'The One Show'" — a favorite suppertime TV talk show.

"The absence of a face is a difficulty these days, because all political communication has to go through a personality," Fielding said.

The most well-known Brexiteer by distant is London'south bicycle-riding, tousle-headed mayor, one of the few politicians to have first-name recognition: Boris.

With his amiable-buffoon manner and Latin-quips, Johnson is widely favorite and could potentially sway many voters. But he'south also a one-man band who's so distant declined to share a stage with Farage and other campaigners. Critics indict him of caring more about his own hopes of succeeding Cameron as prime minister than about the future of Britain.

Matthew Goodwin, a political scientist who studies Britain'south Euroskeptic movement, says the "the divisions on the 'leave' side, in a way, contain some hidden strengths."

"They essentially necessity to mobilize and turn out two groups of voters: UKIP-leaning, older white working-class committed Euroskeptics; and softer, younger, more Conservative-leaning voters," Goodwin said.

He said the "leave" camp can succeed, "provided they've the discipline and the organizational nous to target those two groups."

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