Guido hears the rejoiners over at the European Movement campaign are eating themselves over who should take the reins from Andrew Adonis, who stepped down as the group’s chair in December to “devote more time to writing and other public interest initiatives“. A polite way of saying “this is going nowhere”.
The campaign to succeed him is apparently now in complete disarray, with frontrunner Mike Galsworthy privately claiming in a group chat he’ll “take the grassroots away with [him]” if he doesn’t win, and members “at each other’s throats” over the whole thing. Some are “terrified” he will “sink the movement” in a repeat of the 2019 collapse, which saw the rejoin alliance crumble after Open Britain chair Roland Rudd attempted to oust People’s Vote Directors James McGrory and Tom Baldwin, a move Galsworthy backed. Get the popcorn…
The fight for the chairmanship has pitted two sides of the group in a month-long standoff: those who at least pretend they’re willing to exist outside the EU for the short-term versus the remainiacs who wanted to rejoin yesterday. Patience Wheatcroft, a former Tory now crossbench peer and Tom Brake, Director of Unlock Democracy and former LibDem MP, are battling it out to stop Galsworthy taking the crown. Voting closes this time next week…
Now drippingly Europhile Richard Ottaway, veteran former Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has resigned from the European Movement:
Following reports that the European Movement has combined with Open Europe [sic, should be Open Britain] to campaign in the General Election against Brexit Candidates from all parties I have resigned from the European Movement.
As a long standing member of the Conservative party and having been a Conservative MP for 28 years I cannot support an organisation that is campaigning to defeat Conservative candidates
Sir Richard Ottaway
Europe used to split the Conservative Party, now it splits the Europhiles…
The remnants of the Remain campaign have descended into an almighty squabble over their future direction. Britain Stronger In Europe has rebranded as Open Britain, a new lobbying group which has ditched the commitment to freedom of movement, a pillar of Europhile principle. On Sunday, Open Britain’s founders wrote:
“The strength of feeling is clear. Free movement of people cannot continue as it has done. It has to be reformed.”
This has caused other prominent Remainers to kick off. Guido hears a letter is being circulated among pro-EU groups condemning BSE and Open Britain. Signatories include the man in charge of Scientists for EU, previously one of BSE’s main backers. Meanwhile the CEO of the European Movement, Matthew Fulton, says “our red lines are protecting freedom of movement”. When asked whether BSE and the European Movement were still on the same side, Fulton responded:
“At the time we were, but now with their lack of commitment to freedom of movement – I know it’s not popular thing in the country at the moment – but there needs to be people making that argument.”
Soft Remain versus hard Remain…